Tremendous-Interview with Jan Goetgeluk, the CEO of Virtuix, concerning the story of his firm, the Omni One, and the way forward for VR

Right this moment I’m very proud to publish an interview with Jan Goetgeluk, the CEO of Virtuix. Virtuix is likely one of the first VR startups I received to listen to about after I began with VR. I used to be doing full-body VR with Kinects at Immotionar, when Virtuix began its Kickstarter marketing campaign and generated lots of hype. I nonetheless bear in mind their first trailer with Palmer Luckey making an attempt their machine. They have been a competitor for my startup at the moment they usually have been doing one thing very cool.

Now, after a few years, many difficulties, and plenty of battles we each fought, I’ve lastly had the pleasure to talk with the pinnacle of that firm, and praise him for the lengthy highway he’s been by way of. As a result of it’s exceptional that however all the issues, Virtuix continues to be right here, and has simply began transport the primary models of Omni One, the primary Virtuix machine that goals on the shopper market.

You’ll find my interview with Jan (whom I thank for his availability) within the video right here beneath. We talked concerning the lengthy story of Virtuix, its new product, the Omni One, and the way forward for VR. I’m additionally reporting a (barely edited) transcript with the video timestamps for many who choose studying to watching. Take pleasure in!

Table of Contents

I’m very excited to be right here right now with you Jan Goetgeluk, the CEO of Virtuix. It’s a bit emotional for me as a result of we began roughly the identical years in working in VR and we each labored on full physique and pure actions within the digital worlds. It’s a bit like we’ve all the time been a bit linked, as a result of Virtuix was one of many first cool VR tasks I found. (0:00)

Thanks. Yeah, it’s been an extended highway. That was ten years in the past. We have been early.

We have been younger and glad, earlier than going into 23 winters of VR like now. So these have been the great instances. Since you’ve this lengthy historical past, are you able to inform us the story of Virtuix. How has it began? (0:57)

Yeah, I all the time joke about this with our crew. Our largest accomplishment up to now is that we survived. Lots of firms didn’t survive among the many ones that began with us in these early days, so 2013. We began with a Kickstarter marketing campaign approach again within the day after we did a $1,000,000 Kickstarter marketing campaign in 2013. It was one of many largest campaigns at the moment, there was lots of pleasure.

VR was imagined to be, you understand, the following large factor by 2015, with thousands and thousands of headsets shipped within the discipline. And naturally, it took a very long time. It took for much longer than most individuals anticipated. We truly needed to pivot to the business market simply to outlive. We refunded all our Kickstarter backers and pre-orders with curiosity and pivoted to the business market the place we did fairly properly. We introduced out two merchandise within the business house, the Omni Professional after which Omni Enviornment, which is our e-sports attraction for business leisure, for giant leisure venues like Dave and Buster’s. Now we have an providing for that market and now we’ve come full circle. Now we’ve simply began transport our third product, which is the Omni One, which is our first Omni designed for the house, for shoppers. So we’re again to the unique imaginative and prescient we had from the beginning, an Omni system for the house, and that’s what we simply began transport this 12 months in in beta for now to our buyers. However it’s right here, it exists and we’re very enthusiastic about it.

I bear in mind when your product got here out on Kickstarter, everybody was dreaming about having this at dwelling. However then, at a sure level, individuals began being disenchanted as a result of everybody realized it was not doable. Why did you need to pivot? What was the issue? (2:53)

, the demand from the patron house wasn’t that prime in these early days. The patron marketplace for VR simply wasn’t there but. Know-how was a problem. We couldn’t bundle our system as an entire system since you all the time wanted a PC to strive VR, there have been lots of cables concerned and so forth. Now the Omni One is an entire system the place we will bundle the treadmill with a standalone VR headset. That’s positively been a giant breakthrough in VR for all of us additionally as a result of we will bundle the treadmill with the standalone VR headset and supply the entire system to the tip buyer. This wasn’t doable again then.

Additionally after we began growing the product, it turned out to be extra of a business product. Prices have been increased than we anticipated. It was very sturdy, onerous to ship and again then with Kickstarter…you understand you stated we have been younger and glad, and in addition younger and naïve… Kickstarter simply provided your product to everyone world wide. Again then you definately couldn’t filter out completely different nations. So sure, “right here it’s, everyone on the planet can have this, this large product for the house”. Nicely, we have been naive, simply wasn’t doable to start out transport merchandise like that everywhere in the world and supporting them as a small firm. So there was lots of issues that simply weren’t doable. It simply wasn’t reasonable to ship a product to houses world wide at the moment for a lot of causes.

After which we needed to make the troublesome choice. Sadly, we needed to refund our backers and a few of them have been very upset nonetheless to today.

A lot of our backers are actually upset, even calling us a rip-off. However wait, this isn’t true. We refunded individuals with curiosity, so we tried what we may to be appropriate. However it’s disappointing, was disappointing for me as properly as a result of we had a really vibrant and powerful neighborhood. I actually beloved our neighborhood after which having to say “look, sorry, can’t ship proper now. Now we have to focus commercially first, simply to outlive”.  That was a tough choice, nevertheless it’s a choice we wanted to make… and right here we’re right now.

Since we’re speaking concerning the Omni one, do you need to inform us a few of its options? What are the brand new issues that individuals can discover on this machine? (5:52)
Omni One trailer

The Omni One provides an unmatched freedom of motion. So that you now not held up by the help ring like within the Omni Professional. You’ll be able to totally kneel, and do crouch jumps. It provides full freedom of motion, which is admittedly neat. It’s additionally optimized for shoppers. So it’s very simple to place collectively, no instruments are wanted to assemble it or disassemble it. It rolls round. It’s designed for the dwelling rooms. It appears prefer it suits into an inside. So it’s optimized for dwelling use.

What’s the headset that it really works with? (6:40)

We’re transport with a Pico headset, as a result of Pico is our headset companion. Proper now, we’re transport with the Pico Neo 3 Professional. Pico 4 just isn’t out there but within the US and PICO has been a terrific companion of ours. The headset is custom-made for us. So whenever you activate the headset, it exhibits Virtuix. So it has our software program on it, our sport retailer, and we work hand in hand with PICO to customise their headset for our utility.

Does it work with different headsets? Can I join it with one other machine? (7:13)

Sure you’ll be able to. The Omni One is an entire system, nevertheless it’s not a closed system, so you’ll be able to nonetheless join it to a PC and play PC-based VR video games with your personal headset for those who’d prefer to.

And what about Quest 2 or Pico 4?

Quest 2 is a closed system, so we will’t make our treadmill work with it.

The Pico 4… it’s an excellent query. we’ll probably ship with a Pico 4 for ourselves at a sure level, however once more, a model custom-made and optimized for our system. However I’m unsure at this level for those who can join it to an everyday Pico 4. We’re positive it’s appropriate with PC, however with different standalone headsets it’s not plug and play sometimes. So we’ve received to take a look at that.

I wish to know what video games can be found, as a result of possibly somebody is watching this video and wish to play Half Life Alyx or Gorilla Tag with it… (8:26)

We’re engaged on that proper now. We haven’t introduced our launch titles but, however you’ll be able to assume that every one the favored VR video games or any good VR sport that has a locomotion side or a motion side can be an awesome match to play with the Omni. So we’re actively working with these builders to deliver their video games to our retailer, to our platform, which isn’t lots of work. Now we have an SDK software program growth package, which is pretty simple to implement, so it’s not that a lot work for builders to.

Okay, so if some developer is studying this interview, possibly may think about porting his/her personal sport to the Omni. However please, inform me, often what’s the kind of content material that individuals like probably the most? Is it FPS video games or health or what? (9:20)

It’s a bit of little bit of every thing. I imply, actually first individual shooters are a blast with the Omni as a result of they’re onerous to play with out the Omni. It’s onerous to play a shooter sport by standing nonetheless utilizing a thumbstick… it will get individuals sick… It simply just isn’t what you envisioned to do. In order that’s traditionally been an awesome match for us, however actually any sport… and even past video games, each leisure utility that makes use of motion the place you’re strolling round is simply an unbelievable expertise on our machine… so all the above.

And the way a lot house does it occupy at dwelling? And the way a lot does it weight? Is it one thing I can deliver on my shoulders from the grocery store or would I want some sort of assist? (10:27)

It ships in a giant field. It’s actually not one thing you carry in your shoulder. It’s like a treadmill in your dwelling, that sort of product. However you’ll be able to transfer it round. You’ll be able to see that it’s not large, it suits in a house. It’s about let’s say 4 ft diameter. So in meters about 1 meter, 20 centimeters diameter. Possibly you want about 1 and a half meters throughout to have sufficient house to play, however the machine itself is about 1.2 meters in diameter.

What’s the characteristic of this machine you might be most pleased with? (11:15)

It’s an excellent query. After I got down to make an omnidirectional treadmill again in 2012, I had three standards for myself.

One was that it had to slot in a front room. Two was that it needed to be reasonably priced, considerably reasonably priced to shoppers, and three was that it needed to work properly, it needed to provide the impression, a minimum of to your mind, that you just’re strolling round inside VR.

And that’s what I’m most proud about: it’s that with the Omni, you’re strolling round inside that digital world. And I discover it unbelievable. I need you begin utilizing the Omni. It’s very onerous to return to VR with out it since you’re so used to simply strolling round in VR, then instantly having to push a button on a joystick is like “Overlook about it” So yeah, it’s cool.

You simply went for the crowfunding route. Why you went this manner and never by way of VCs or Kickstarter once more? (12:16)

Really we’ve achieved all the above. , we’ve enterprise buyers as properly. Mark Cuban is a giant investor and we raised over $35 million up to now from buyers, together with VCs, together with large buyers.

But additionally fairness crowdfunding it’s all the time been an awesome match for us. We love doing it. We love having our neighborhood as buyers in our firm. We love having our clients be buyers in order that they’re not simply clients. They’re actually evangelists that consider what we do as an organization and are a part of our journey, a part of our story. So we love doing it and it’s an awesome match for us as a result of lots of our followers and gamers need to put money into our firm.

And in order that’s why we do fairness crowdfunding. It’s an effective way for us to boost cash as a {hardware} firm. You want lots of capital. It’s very capital intensive. In order that’s why we raised some huge cash through the years, together with with fairness crowdfunding. In reality, we’re doing a marketing campaign proper now. For any of your viewers who need to maybe put money into Virtuix or are concerned about studying extra, you’ll be able to go to, and we’re presently doing our collection B spherical.

And one factor we’re doing is that our buyers get a reduction on the Omni One in the event that they need to purchase the product and they’re their first in line to get the product as properly. So for those who make investments $1000 you get a 30% low cost price $780 on Omni One. It’s a pleasant perk for our buyers who turn into a part of our neighborhood and our journey forward.

And the way a lot do you ask individuals within the crowdfunding marketing campaign?

The minimal is $1000, the minimal.

So everybody that’s obsessed with your product can turn into an investor, that’s cool. I’ve heard that now you began transport some models already to buyers… (14:35)

Yeah, we’re. We began transport beta models to our investor neighborhood, as a result of our buyers are the primary in line to get models. And so we’re first doing a beta program for our buyers. Over a thousand of our buyers have utilized for a beta unit. And so we simply began transport what name beta models. In fact, it’s {hardware}… as soon as the fashions are made, there’s not a lot change you can also make. So it’s not that the product is gonna change drastically from the place it’s right now, however we name it beta. The software program, the video games are nonetheless within the beta part.

So we’re transport and we’re delivering Omni One to houses as we communicate.

What if somebody doesn’t need to make investments however simply to purchase a unit? (15:28)

It isn’t out there but for common sale, once more as a result of we give our buyers the possibility to get one first and we’ve 1000’s of buyers that need one. So it’ll maintain us busy for positive by way of the remainder of the 12 months. Basic launch availability to most people is coming typically subsequent 12 months.

First or second half of the 12 months?

Will depend on what number of buyers need a unit, it depends upon them, as a result of we’re gonna fulfill that demand first.

I wish to have the chance to strive it in the future. Getting again to the previous, you grew lots in location-based VR, organizing additionally tournaments with large prizes. I wish to discuss a bit about location-based VR as a result of it’s often a sector we overlook, particularly after the COVID appeared to have killed it. How are issues going for Virtuix on location-based VR and the way is the market basically? (16:16)

That’s been our key marketplace for the previous few years with our flagship product Omni Enviornment, which is an e-sports attraction. It consists of built-in e-sports contests with a $100,000 prize pool that we sponsor. Each time individuals play, they’ll win actual cash by way of weekly and month-to-month tournaments which might be simply constructed within the system. We offered that system to large leisure venues and that’s particularly for the US market. The US has 1000’s of these household leisure facilities and massive chains, like Dave and Buster’s, Sky Zone, you title it, trampoline parks, bowling chains, you title it. That’s our core market and that market has achieved very well. 2020 with the pandemic was actually onerous. However then after 2020, it was one large celebration. So many venues had their finest 12 months ever in 2021 and in 2022. So it’s been an awesome marketplace for us and that market is alive.

So is the market again to pre-pandemic ranges? (18:09)

The larger leisure venues had their finest 12 months ever in 2021, after the pandemic, and 2022 was additionally excellent, so they simply had two unbelievable years. It’s been nice for that market right here.

As an entrepreneur, as somebody that creates a product, is it the identical in your engaged on the shoppers and the situation primarily based VR market? What satisfies you extra, what excites you extra? (18:39)

I’m engaged on a shopper product. I’d say it’s the most enjoyable as a result of it has the largest scale. I imply, the Omni One can turn into a multibillion greenback enterprise. We predict we will deliver Omni One to thousands and thousands of houses world wide. There’s a lot demand for, a lot pleasure about it. That’s thrilling. Engaged on a shopper product is enjoyable… engaged on a business product is enjoyable too.

However it’s completely different and positively shopper VR and business VR are very completely different. The video games, for instance, are in fact very completely different for LBE or shopper use. So there’s lots of variations, nevertheless it’s enjoyable, lots of engaged on merchandise and constructing merchandise. It’s one of the vital gratifying issues you are able to do in your profession.

What are the variations between a sport made for the patron market and one made for the location-based one? (19:56)

Simply the size of it, to start with. Omni Enviornment experiences or video games are about 7 minutes every. For a business expertise, we’ve discovered it to be the candy spot. It’s 7 minutes and you need to take out every thing. That’s troublesome, proper? Every little thing needs to be simple to play, onerous to grasp as a result of you’ve 5 minutes to present someone an excellent time and that may be someone who’s barely performed video video games ever.

So you’ll be able to’t have any menu methods, can’t have any troublesome management methods, you need to simplify all of it. However then you definately nonetheless must construct within the design sufficient depth in order that an skilled participant nonetheless finds it difficult and nonetheless needs to play it many instances, like with Omni Enviornment.

For us, it’s all about repeatability. A few of our prime groups have performed over 300 instances, so there’s gamers which have performed over 300 instances, which is sort of unbelievable. In order that requires very sensible sport design to make a sport interesting to play so many instances whereas additionally interesting to someone who performs it for the primary time and doesn’t know what he’s doing. So it’s not simple to do. And I believe we’ve an excellent system. We found out how to try this.

Watching movies of individuals taking part in with a VR treadmill is cool and plenty of of them have turn into viral. However every time I attempted one in every of them I had all the time the impression of sliding on ice, not of strolling. Why is that this? And can we ever resolve this concern? (21:21)
virtuix omni one player
An individual taking part in with the Omni One (Picture by Virtuix)

No, it’s an excellent query. And we’ve to be very trustworthy about that. We confused this and everyone who needs to purchase our product, we make certain they know that, we are saying them to go strive it first. This isn’t like strolling on the road. It feels completely different. You’re strolling on a concave dish with our design. We’ve tried to make it as simple as doable. Once more, we’re very profitable in business leisure. So we’ve 5 minutes to present someone an excellent time. So inside 5 minutes, someone has to have the ability to stroll on it and really feel like they’re strolling in VR. It may well’t take days to get a hold of it, in order that the training curve needs to be fairly fast and I believe we nailed that. In any other case we wouldn’t achieve success in these large leisure venues.

However it’s an excellent level, Tony. Now we have to be trustworthy about that. It’s not like pure strolling. It’s not for everybody very similar to snowboarding just isn’t for everyone or, you understand, some individuals. If you happen to’re utterly uncoordinated it’s most likely not for you since you’re gonna be flailing on it. And I already know you’re not going to have an excellent time, as a result of it’s not like strolling on the streets. It takes a while to getting used to and individuals which might be extremely coordinated are those that get the hold of it like that, they usually have a blast. And other people that aren’t coordinated… possibly it’s not for you and we’ve to be trustworthy about that.

However do you assume that this downside may be solved over time? Have you ever achieved some R&D to make the strolling sensation extra reasonable? (23:19)

Nicely, I believe that our answer is fairly shut. I’d love so that you can strive it, Tony, and you may inform me what you assume however the answer we’ve is the one the place you stroll on a concave low-friction base with low-friction footwear. So it’s by no means going to be like an actual strolling answer, as a result of an actual strolling sensation would require one thing just like the Infinadeck, with shifting belts and motorized belts. And that’s a $60,000 machine, proper?

So sadly, for those who wanna make one thing that’s reasonably priced for shoppers and suits in a house, a passive machine, and the passive design, I believe is the very best answer. That’s why I selected for that route. However you’re strolling on a concave, low-friction base and for those who do it a few times or thrice, I believe your mind thinks you’re strolling. It seems like strolling and also you’re simply strolling in VR. However there’s that that jiffy of studying curve that you could recover from.

What’s the way forward for your product? I don’t assume you need to cease right here… (24:51)

There’s extra we will add, haptics to the bottom, haptics to the vest… I discover haptics add lots to the VR expertise at a suitable value. In our case, it already may be in-built as properly. So I believe that’ll be the following addition to make it much more reasonable and enjoyable.

After which we’ll see from there. Now we have a number of concepts.

Do you assume that this product will ever turn into, let’s say, mainstream because the PC? In order that most individuals having a VR headset at dwelling in 10 years from now, they’ll have a strolling treadmill as properly. (25:28)

It’s my imaginative and prescient as a result of I believe it makes VR so a lot better. It makes VR a lot extra pleasant to stroll round in VR, no one envisions teleporting in VR or pushing a thumbstick. Individuals envision strolling round in VR, and that’s what our machine helps you to do. Once more, it’s not for everyone. You want some house for it. It’s $2600. It’s not tremendous low-cost, so it’s not for everyone. It’s most likely not mainstream like a console.

I believe there’s a giant marketplace for it. I believe many individuals will need to have it. I believe it’s like within the film Prepared Participant One. Not everyone has an solely directional treadmill, however the cool youngsters have one, proper?

That’s an awesome comparability. And basically, what’s your your imaginative and prescient for VR, and the M-word? (26:33)

Nicely, I simply learn yesterday that the metaverse is lifeless…

We’ll put together a funeral later at AWE most likely…

As anticipated, the Metaverse is lifeless. Right here it’s. , I knew that final 12 months… that these articles would come out simply round this time. Very predictable. But additionally irrelevant.

In the end, I believe VR is a know-how and a medium that will likely be broadly utilized in society for leisure, and different purposes as properly, nevertheless it’s simply so good and it’s solely getting higher. I believe it’s gonna get to a degree the place the colour… the visible Turing take a look at… your mind will now not be capable to discern whether or not you’re watching one thing that’s actual or digital. After which it turns into such an awesome expertise.

I believe VR will likely be broadly utilized by many individuals each day. I consider that after which our machine helps you to stroll round inside VR, which is I believe even higher.

Let’s say if somebody that’s listening to you possibly needs to do your job or one thing related, what are the teachings that might you inform this individual? I imply, all of us have an extended historical past of, you understand, onerous battles…(27:44)

[Laughing] The primary recommendation is all the time don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t don’t, don’t do this at dwelling . I’ve been working 80 hours, 80 hour-weeks for 10 years. It’s very onerous for those who wanna begin a enterprise.

[Laughing] And I say possibly do software program versus {hardware}.

I do software program and belief me, we work lots as properly. So don’t work onerous. That’s most likely the lesson… I’m joking, in fact

If you happen to do {hardware}, you need to realize it’s an extended highway. However look, I really like what I do. I really like our product. Our crew has been with us for seven, 8, 10 years. lots of our crew has been with us since day one and we keep collectively as a result of we consider in what we do after which we consider in our product. So on the finish of the day it’s all worthwhile.

Yeah, however do you’ve some sort of life lesson to inform to individuals?

I’ve a guide of life classes…

Decide one.

Oh it’s an excellent one. Work onerous, work onerous. I believe the younger era appears not desirous to work onerous or they assume they’ll have shortcuts in life. I don’t know. There’s no substitute for displaying up and doing issues.

, concepts are like buses. There’s one each 5 minutes. Everyone has concepts, however you need to execute them. It’s all concerning the execution and pursuing them and dealing onerous and reaching them.

I like the thought of comparability between concepts and buses. That was nice.
So it’s time for my typical final query: when you have one thing else so as to add… now it’s time to say it! (29:44)

This was an awesome dialog, Tony. I believe we coated most of it. To the those that need extra info. I’d say go to take a It summarizes our story up to now, Omni One and the highway forward and I’d like to welcome individuals as potential shareholders in Virtuix and turn into a part of our neighborhood and a part of our journey.

I underline once more this invitation. I all the time like to satisfy with individuals that actually fought a bit like me, for a few years on this advanced discipline. If you are able to do one thing for Virtuix and Jan, in fact, please go to the web site and let’s attempt to construct one thing collectively. That’s additionally what I say each day. Let’s push digital actuality all collectively. So thanks once more in your time. It’s been enjoyable. (30:22)

Thanks a lot, Tony.