Yes, at first glance the Virtuix Omni is simply an adult-sized baby walker. But it is OH SO much more than that. Plenty of people on Kickstarter saw this potential and that’s why is got funded to almost 10 times it goal.
Let’s pan back a bit..One of the more frequent questions raised when people first encounter virtual reality is “why can’t I move around?”. That is a very reasonable questions and something us VR-fanatics are often too eager to overlook. If your mind is fully ensconced in a virtual realm, shouldn’t your body be as well? The new Virtuix Omni treadmill aims to answer that question with a very solid effort at giving you 360 degrees of freedom without endangering you or your pets (or living room, windows, mum etc.). You can pre-order one now for an estimated October delivery from the Omni site.
Suspension of dis’brief
And here’s where you just might giggle with delight a little. The Omni gives you support from a harness around your hips and upper thigh [Ed: ‘crotch’ isn’t a dirty word], so if you’re young enough, it’ll remind you of those baby walkers and shouldn’t be too hard to adjust to. For others, it’s much like a parachute harness or something you’d wear if you were starring in an Ang Lee film. This is capable of supporting your weight and sitting or crouching are all viable, so you can take a breather if you want to increase your playing time. The harness is adjustable for all sizes and is apparently comfortable to wear for extended play times (walking across Skyrim might be pushing your luck, though). We’ll get back to you with updates as they near a retail release.
Work it baby!
As well as physical freedom being one of the most important PEAs, it also has the added benefit of keeping you off your arse and moving around. The style of motion, while a little stilted, seems natural and reports say that it is very easy to get used to and, anyway, you generally have other things to worry about. Like where to go next. You’re FREE to wander where you choose. Need to get to the other side of Tamriel? That’ll burn a few calories. Want to reach that door before your head is blown off? MOVE IT OR LOSE IT, SOLDIER! Just fancy a morning jog around Whiterun? There you go, mind that dragon.
Full range of motion
Here’s a video of the different moves and positions the Omni allows:
Storm vs Kitana: FIGHT!
It’s pretty exciting to imagine how much fun could be had with two or more of these.. I was very excited to see CounterStrike being play-tested. It looked fluid and unless that guy had an aim-bot on, it certainly didn’t hamper his ability pwn some n00bs. Multi-player aspects are clearly a winner, but one thing they’re going to have to work on is first person fighting games. I mean, come on: Mortal Combat, Tekken, DOA, Fight Night.. That is just too much fun not to be had! It doesn’t look like the structure is going to support kicking people in the face any time soon (at least, not without bruising your shins), but fingers crossed for version 2.0.