Virtual Reality

Virtuix Omni and Oculus Rift come together for literal running and gunning

Virtuix Omni and Oculus Rift c...
The Omni is an omni-directional treadmill that can be used together with a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift
The Omni is an omni-directional treadmill that can be used together with a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift
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Team Fortress 2 being played while using the Omni and an Oculus Rift
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Team Fortress 2 being played while using the Omni and an Oculus Rift
The Omni waist ring is height adjustable
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The Omni waist ring is height adjustable
The Omni is an omni-directional treadmill that can be used together with a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift
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The Omni is an omni-directional treadmill that can be used together with a VR headset, such as the Oculus Rift
The Omni features a sloped octagonal platform with radial grooves
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The Omni features a sloped octagonal platform with radial grooves
View gallery - 4 images

Omni-directional treadmills promise to take things a stationary step further than current motion controllers, such as the Wii-mote, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect, by translating movements to an onscreen avatar as users walk and run on the spot. The Omni from Virtuix is one such treadmill aimed at home users and its creators recently demonstrated its use with the Oculus Rift, providing a tantalizing glimpse of its potential to provide an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience and really get gamers moving.

Similar in form to the WizDish and Stringwalker, and much more compact than the CyberWalk platform, the Omni features a sloped octagonal platform topped with a low friction surface. Unlike the aforementioned WizDish, which requires users to “moonwalk” across its slick surface, the Omni requires the user to wear special shoes that have a low friction sole and a plunger pin that fits into radial grooves on the surface of the treadmill.

The Omni waist ring is height adjustable
The Omni waist ring is height adjustable

Virtuix says this plunger pin/groove arrangement allows for a more natural and steady gait by stabilizing the feet and preventing them from sliding sideways. Additional stability is provided by the device’s waist support ring and belt that help the user walk on the Omni hands free. The ring is height adjustable and the belt will come in various sizes to accommodate teens to adults.

While the Omni comes with tracking hardware and software to recognize a user’s movements and translate them into mouse and keystrokes to steer an avatar in a virtual environment, it does require a few additional bits and pieces. Users will have to supply their own VR glasses, wireless controller and a processing unit – the current version uses a PC but the Virtuix team says it will work with any gaming platform, including PlayStation and Xbox consoles, providing the support software gets developed.

While the team hopes that software support for other platforms can be built in the future, development is currently focused on PC, with Virtuix currently developing tracking and gesture recognition software for that platform. The company is also looking at decoupling the looking direction from the walking direction and even the gun aiming direction to improve the first person shooter experience.

Team Fortress 2 being played while using the Omni and an Oculus Rift
Team Fortress 2 being played while using the Omni and an Oculus Rift

The Omni software currently recognizes walking and sprinting, with the tracking system able to sense walking speed to provide the potential for 1:1 pace synchronization. Virtuix says the device also supports jumping and strafing.

While it works with a Kinect sensor, the Omni does feature an integrated motion tracker that recognizes some basic arm movements to emulate the swinging of a sword or drawing of a bow, and also enables virtual crouching by bending over.

The current prototype measures 48 inches (122 cm) in diameter, but the Virtuix team is hoping to cut this down further for the release model. The Omni is also designed to be easily disassembled for easy storage with the safety and support assembly able to be removed and the platform expected to come in two separate halves.

Virtuix hopes to launch a Kickstarter campaign in May to get the Omni into production and told The Verge it is aiming for a US$400 to $600 price tag.

The video below of the Omni being used with the Oculus Rift to play Team Fortress 2 gives an indication of the Omni’s potential for bringing VR gaming to the masses, with Virtuix also touting its potential exercise, virtual tourism, training and simulation, teleconferencing and virtual workplace applications.

Sources: Virtuix, The Verge, via Mashable

Omni + Rift = True VR (TF2)

View gallery - 4 images
11 comments
Seth Kazzim
Good price range!
Is it just me or are really close to the next level in gaming, more so than in the past. All we have had were upgrades, these are completely new devices!
Elijah Sherv
WOW! That looks so fun! May look a bit dorky using it.. but wow. I've always thought of a way to walk around with your feet while experiencing it on a screen. And these guys have done an excellent job of doing that.
Matt Rings
Sweet, and the perfect price range. I have a spot in my game room just waiting... Now, the 1080p Oculus Rift, and a virtual rifle... all set.
Robert Weeks
Yes, teach more kids to kill people with guns. Do we need more people and children killed by trained killers? If so good job folks.
RaverWild
Here is the moment to watch again "The Lawnmower man". Pierce Brosnan was far better then, than in James Bond.
sk8dad
Great advancement in home entertainment. Now the kids will actually get some exercise. If we could add some fans and heat lamps to simulate wind and the Sun, then they will never have to set foot outside again.
yrag
Wow, I have to say, this product actually seems to have some legs—so to speak.
Snake Oil Baron
[sigh] Once again we have to remind people that not only is there no good data showing any negative effects from video games but violent crime has been dropping like a stone during an extended period of video game expansion in numbers of consumers and degree of "violence" (it's pixels, not people) even while kids are exposed to them at a younger age. This means that holding on to the belief that "violent" (it's pixels, not people) games turn people into "kill bots" requires an ever expanding degree of detachment from reality.
Crouching and going prone should be fairly easy, maybe with buttons on the gun controller. Looks good. It might not be the final perfect interface yet but it looks like it could be worth giving up the mouse and keyboard for.
Ben Drury
@ Robert weeks
Snake Oil Baron hit the nail on the head! i have seen many study's on getting overviolent children ( who have not used video games ) to play violent video games, has seen a dramatic reduction in angry & violent outbursts, with 98% of the children with only 2% actually getting more violent while playing the games but seemed to calm down after being removed from the games.
Games & guns don't kill people, People kill People !
booradley
Regarding no evidence to show any negative effects from violent video games -- a meta analysis of the research in this area can be found here: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/12/5/353.short
I don't play video games but I have no problem with people who do. I do however have a problem with people who lie.
Abstract: "Research on exposure to television and movie violence suggests that playing violent video games will increase aggressive behavior. A meta-analytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. Experimental and nonexperimental studies with males and females in laboratory and field settings support this conclusion. Analyses also reveal that exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. Playing violent video games also decreases prosocial behavior."
Not that anyone will read it, but for completeness sake, the full text can be downloaded here: http://webspace.pugetsound.edu/facultypages/cjones/chidev/Paper/Articles/Anderson-Aggression.pdf