The Kickstarter campaign for Virtuix's VR-focused Omni "treadmill" has concluded, blowing through the company's goal of $150,000 with a staggering $1,108,351 USD from 3,249 backers. With a huge wad of cash now at their disposal, Virtuix said on Friday that customers can now pre-purchase Omni directly from the company's website. The cost? A starting price tag of $499 USD.
Currently, Omni is offered in two packages: the Standard and the "Duel" version. The former $499 package will include the Omni platform, shoes, belt, and tracking hardware and software. Unfortunately, you can't wear any pair of shoes out of the closet: the device requires a special pair with three "nubs" on the soles that dig into the platform's curved grooves.
When we got a chance to test Omni during E3 2013, we asked about the possibility of adapters that could be snapped onto the bottom of any shoe, hence possibly reducing the overall cost. Jan Goetgeluk indicated that it would be more trouble than it's worth, because not every shoe of the same size is built the same way. He also indicated that eventually, sensors will be incorporated into the shoes so that Omni doesn't need to depend on Kinect for Windows.
As for the belt, it's mainly for when users can't grip the stand's support ring (aka holding a rifle), and features a built-in mini-platform on each side of the user's waist that rests upon the support ring. It's possible to "walk" without it, but given that users are cut off from the real world visually and audibly, it's an ideal "training wheels" solution for stabilization. Getting the hang of walking forward without actually moving takes some getting used to as it is (the curved platform doesn't move either), and the belt helps with that.
The second Omni offering is the Duel Package for a meatier $1,019 USD. This contains two Omni platforms and three pair of shoes. Keep in mind that Omni is only half of the virtual reality experience: it doesn't include a head mounted display like the Oculus Rift as shown in many demonstrations. Keeping that in mind, Virtuix is knocking $50 off the price of both packages until Tuesday, August 13, 2013.
"A revolution in virtual reality is underway—consumers can now explore virtual worlds with the natural use of their hands and eyes thanks to affordable devices such as the Razer Hydra and Oculus Rift," the company said. "The Omni evolves virtual reality one step further, allowing anyone to stand up and traverse virtual worlds with the natural use of their own feet. True virtual reality cannot be experienced sitting down. The Omni will free gamers from passive, seated gameplay, unleashing the full potential of virtual reality gaming."
The last we heard, Oculus was shooting for a $300 price tag for Rift, which is incredibly cheap for what it accomplishes. There has even been talk about the VR headset having a subsidized cost or perhaps even free sometime in the future. Still, even for $300 and adding the $500 Omni into the mix, PC gamers will have a virtual reality setup for less than a grand -- that's not including the cost of an actual PC and games, of course. But, as Virtuix points out, the possibilities for both components reach far beyond gaming.
"Training and simulation, fitness, virtual tourism, virtual tradeshows and events, meet-ups and multi-person adventures, virtual workplaces, museums, VR architecture, VR concerts," the company pointed out. "The possibilities are limitless."
Time to move some furniture.
I know I'm not everyone, but when I play a video game, I don't want to be exercising (or doing much other than WSAD and moving my mouse). When I'm exercising, I don't want to be playing a video game. I want to be focusing on my workout. I don't think anyone who doesn't exercise and plays video games is going to change their exercising habits with a device like this. Much less be able to afford one.
Glad to see technologies like these being developed.