Virtual Reality

Kat Walk omnidirectional VR treadmill lets you walk, jump, and sit freely

The Kat Walk VR treadmill provides greater freedom of movement without supports or harnesses getting in the way
The Kat Walk VR treadmill provides greater freedom of movement without supports or harnesses getting in the way
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill has an optional hanging chair for relaxing in or out of virtual reality
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill has an optional hanging chair for relaxing in or out of virtual reality
The Kat Walk VR treadmill provides greater freedom of movement without supports or harnesses getting in the way
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill provides greater freedom of movement without supports or harnesses getting in the way
The Kat Walk VR treadmill comes with the platform, harness and sensors, and shoes (SWAT clothing and accessories sold separately)
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill comes with the platform, harness and sensors, and shoes (SWAT clothing and accessories sold separately)
The Kat Walk VR treadmill can enhance the virtual reality experience of games, apps, and simulations
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill can enhance the virtual reality experience of games, apps, and simulations
The Kat Walk VR treadmill aims for a compact, home-friendly design that is light with a smaller footprint
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The Kat Walk VR treadmill aims for a compact, home-friendly design that is light with a smaller footprint

Virtual reality headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR, are becoming more commonplace as manufacturers augment hardware, researchers improve technology, and designers create more virtual experiences. But if you want full-body virtual immersion, treadmills are one way to go. And the latest omnidirectional treadmill, the Kat Walk, provides greater freedom of movement with less constraints.

The Virtuix Omni is one of the best-known VR treadmills, launching on Kickstarter in June, 2013. There are other virtual reality treadmills either under development, such as the Cyberith Virtualizer, or in prototype phases, such as the Space WalkerVR. But the common aspect of each of these is that they resemble an adult-sized baby walker. The Kat Walk takes a different approach, by ditching constrictive rings and excessive harnesses.

There are no rings or barriers to hinder movement, so users are free to gesticulate body parts without fear of smacking against something. The built-in harness system is designed to accommodate different body shapes while supporting weight up to 308 lb (140 kg). While other virtual reality treadmills require users to remain standing, the Kat Walk permits sitting, making it ideal for racing or aviation games.

The Kat Walk VR treadmill can enhance the virtual reality experience of games, apps, and simulations
The Kat Walk VR treadmill can enhance the virtual reality experience of games, apps, and simulations

The Kat Walk features embedded sensors that track user movement, translating it to in-game actions. In addition to the less-restrictive open structure, the team is designing a more realistic way of walking. Users will wear special shoe covers that are better at simulating the natural forces of walking. The combination of a high-friction surface with the rolling friction of the shoe covers reportedly makes movement more like walking and less like sliding. This will help reduce the learning curve while helping users maintain better balance.

The design team behind Kat Walk has plans to make it home-friendly. They're looking to ship a product that weighs around 165 lb (75 kg) with an outer diameter of 40 in (101 cm). If they're successful, the structure will also be narrower and foldable, and the base will be thinner with hidden wheels for easy movement. And if that isn't homey enough, backers have the option of adding a swing chair so the Kat Walk can double as furniture.

Kat Walk is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 111 percent of its US$100,000 goal in a month, with eight days left to go. The current available pledge options for Kat Walk start at $599, complete with the platform, harness and sensors, and shoes. Users can add $29 for an extra pair of shoes and $149 for the hanging chair.

If all the product engineering, tooling, pre-producting testing, and production goes as planned, backers can expect shipments of the Kat Walk to start sometime in April, 2016. Check out the video below to see the Kat Walk virtual reality treadmill in action.

Source: Kat VR, Kickstarter

KAT WALK – A NEW VIRTUAL REALITY LOCOMOTION DEVICE

4 comments
Jimjam
Hmmm, it looks like it relies on slippery shoes like the other 'treadmills'. I wonder if someone will be able to come up with an affordable (and quite) real treadmill that keeps users in the same space by moving a conveyer belt or wheels of some sort?
CharlesCatalano
Like Jimjam, I wouldc be interested in a VR treadmill that actually has a conveyor belt to enable increasing/decreasing speeds, varying elevation etc. I'm kind of surprised that VR Treadmill technology hasn't advanced more than it has.
monkofdarkfire
This sounds really cool, i can't wait till i have the money to buy it!
Gizzyfuel
the only concern is that Have they tested someone with long arm such as me who has about i think 3 in length arm and what about if I was falling or on the ground yet i am still standing up. If I was them I would create a room size of like 10x10 box where you can feel air or feel rain with a VR on of course water proof with attaching arm and legs where if you were falling they would quickly move you into that position and allow movement control to the game spec. But really we do not need VR but really a more humanly approach such as VR club room for social interaction instead of just hiding in your own room or house for hours and then go to work. I mean life should be about social interacting. What about those disable vet or people who cant run or walk this is a slap in the face to them.