After attempts by several companies over the years, Virtuix is finally bringing virtual reality gaming home. Their new device brings to life, the pages and scenes of science fiction books and movies. The Virtuix Omni is slated to take gaming to new dimensions, literally. It is a omnidirectional treadmill being developed for use in virtual reality games. It is built to be used in conjunction with head mounted displays like the Oculus Rift. The combination of the two allows players to walk naturally, simulating movement in gaming environments. By using special stabilizing shoes, players can safely walk on the device’s grooved, low friction base. It is expected to heighten gaming’s apex by providing a more immersive experience. It should take gamers’ minds further away from reality and deep into fantasy. Though the most popular application for this would be gaming, the possibilities are as many as there are grains of sand.
At a price of $500.00 the Virtuix Omni is open to many business as well as for personal use. The tourism industry is just one that could profit from its use. It could provide virtual tours and more realistic views of attractive destinations while enticing potential customers. It could animate the dreams of those who can not travel. Currently, ‘America’s Army’, a popular game, is being used to help train the United States Army. However the simulation still lacks, in that it is played from a seated position. By using Virtuix’s device, the training process would be that much more efficient. The Omni has many untold uses. To name several, it could be used for multi-person adventures, office meetings, concerts, previewing architectural design and even touring the moon. Imagine being able to walk through hell as an air-conditioner cools your room and a glass of lemonade sweetly goes down your gullet. With this device and subsequent ones that are sure to come, the limits are only in the imaginations of designers and engineers.
The virtual reality treadmill is available for preorder now and deliveries are scheduled to start March 2014. One thing to consider, of course, is the immense shipping cost that can vary from $100.00 - $700.00 depending on the country. Is it worth paying more than the device’s cost to ship it? Its specialized shoes are included in the package, but one can only imagine how frequently they would need to be replaced. $50.00 to repeatedly replace a pair of gaming shoes could become costly for a hardcore game player. The apparatus can accommodate individuals of most sizes (4’8” to 6’5” and up to 285lbs), but takes up much space that the average gamer does not have.
The Omni showcases years of research into the virtual reality field. Though many have expressed interest in it, and it seems to be a monster of an invention, it may be before its time. Many gaming devices and companies have come and gone as their products either became a fad or were introduced into a market that was not ready. It is easier to have early success by peaking consumer interest than it is to have longevity in the gaming industry. Only the swing of the pendulum can tell if the Virtuix Omni will be a longstanding knockout champion or develop rubber legs after a few victories.