Virtuix Omni One Comes Full Circle with an All-in-one VR Treadmill

So far as VR treadmills go, Virtuix is the OG. Whereas the corporate had got down to make a client VR treadmill a decade in the past, market realities pushed the corporate into the out-of-home VR attraction area. However in any case these years the corporate stays dead-set on promoting a VR treadmill to shoppers, and this time round it’s taking an all-in-one strategy with the brand new Virtuix Omni One. I visited the corporate’s Austin, Texas headquarters to strive it for myself.

The Virtuix Omni Backstory

Picture courtesy Virtuix

The unique Virtuix Omni treadmill began life approach again in 2013 as wood prototype constructed by a small group led by CEO Jan Goetgeluk. Thus the core concept was conceived a full three years earlier than the primary wave of client VR headsets appeared available on the market in 2016.

The thought itself is straightforward. What in the event you had a treadmill on which you could possibly run in any path? With such a treadmill and a VR headset in your head, you could possibly transfer your physique and really feel such as you have been actually shifting by way of the digital world.

The execution of this concept, nevertheless, has been something however easy.

Treadmills are typically massive, heavy, and costly gadgets. And the Virtuix Omni was no exception. Though the corporate set out initially to construct a tool for shoppers, the fact of the fee and complexity of such a tool made it a difficult promote past early adopters. The ahead-of-its-time treadmill additionally suffered one other key subject for the buyer VR area; the ‘ring’ help’ design prevented gamers from having a full vary of movement, which made the treadmill a non-starter for a lot of client VR video games that anticipated gamers to have the ability to crouch, attain right down to the bottom, or transfer their arms round at their waist (the place many video games generally place holsters for key gadgets).

These challenges compelled the corporate to pivot towards the out-of-home VR attraction area. Thus, the Omni Area—an enormous VR attraction that features a pod of 4 of the corporate’s VR treadmills for multiplayer gameplay with {custom} content material—was born. The system would go on to be put in in 73 leisure areas throughout the US and has turn out to be Virtuix’s bread-and-butter enterprise.

Picture courtesy Virtuix

Virtuix realized early on that VR was, at this stage, a reasonably clunky proposition. Solely early lovers and pc specialists had the talents and endurance to arrange and troubleshoot even client VR programs, not to mention one which cobbled collectively advanced {hardware} like a headset and VR treadmill. Anticipating arcade attendants to determine how one can preserve a system of 4 Virtuix Omni treadmills, VR headsets, and an array of networked computer systems powering all of it, simply wasn’t realistically going to work at scale.

That led the corporate to construct Omni Area like a large all-in-one VR arcade. The corporate has impressively custom-made actually each step of the shopper’s journey by way of the expertise. From the second they step into the enclosure they’re guided by video display screen prompts about what they’re going to expertise, how one can slip on their particular sneakers, and how one can get into the Virtuix Omni treadmill as soon as it’s their flip.

Photograph by Highway to VR

The identical, if no more, care has been paid to the operator’s expertise. Omni Area has every thing to be a self-sustaining VR attraction. It doesn’t simply include the 4 treadmills, but additionally 4 headsets, controllers (with charging pods), SteamVR monitoring base stations, and all of the {hardware} to run the networked VR experiences and the pod’s software program itself which not solely manages all the linked gadgets, however even captures footage of gamers (each in and outdoors of the sport) and emails it to them as a memento of their expertise. It additionally makes routine troubleshooting steps like headsets, computer systems, or SteamVR right into a easy touchscreen button press by way of a {custom} interface for the operator. Omni Area is really an all-in-one product.

Virtuix Area’s {custom} software program makes it simple to handle all of the computer systems and {hardware} that energy the expertise. | Photograph by Highway to VR

For a small firm, Virtuix’s capability to concentrate on the holistic expertise of its product is each uncommon and spectacular.

Coming Full Circle

With the various classes realized about creating an all-in-one expertise for the out-of-home VR attraction area, the corporate is popping its consideration again to the buyer realm with a model new product—Virtuix Omni One.

Picture courtesy Virtuix

With Omni One, Virtuix isn’t promoting a VR treadmill. It’s promoting an all-in-one system that features the newly designed VR treadmill, a VR headset, and entry to a library of custom-made content material. It’s an formidable strategy, however one which displays Virtuix’s capability to determine and tackle key issues with the general expertise it needs to ship to prospects.

The unique ring design of the Omni meant gamers couldn’t crouch or have full motion of their arms round their waist. | Photograph by Highway to VR

A type of key factors the corporate recognized was the best way that the unique Omni design made compatibility with trendy VR content material a problem. The help ring across the participant imply their motion was restricted, each of their capability to crouch, lean, and transfer their arms with full freedom.

That ‘easy’ downside necessitated a whole redesign of the treadmill. The Omni One now makes use of an arm help design that all the time stays behind the consumer. This offers you the power to have a full vary of movement whereas additionally operating in any path. The arm doesn’t actively maintain you upright, but it surely offers the pressure that stops you from operating straight off the sting of the treadmill.

One other downside the corporate recognized in its objective of delivering a client VR treadmill is the complexity of current PC VR programs and getting gamers into the precise content material.

Even when Omni One buyer was already an professional in PC VR and prepared to place up with technical annoyances, having a tether to the pc means worrying in regards to the consumer wrapping themselves up within the cable (or asking them to rig up a ceiling mounted cable administration system).

Although the Omni One can nonetheless technically be used with a PC VR setup, this problem pushed Virtuix to pair its treadmill with a standalone VR headset out of the field (Pico Neo 3, particularly). However it’s not simply a headset, however a headset outfitted with a custom-made Omni storefront serving up content material that’s particularly made or tailored for the VR treadmill. The corporate even constructed its personal ‘first steps’ expertise, a surprisingly well-made introduction that introduces customers to the magic of VR and teaches them how one can transfer and really feel comfy with their controllers and treadmill.

And though sticker-shock has all the time been a problem for Virtuix, the Omni One is definitely not an unreasonable worth… in the event you consider it as what it actually is: a treadmill that provides you with a exercise.

Typical train treadmills vary in worth from $500 to $2,000 or extra. Omni One shall be worth at $2,600, together with the $700 Pico Neo 3 headset (which the corporate stresses can be used as a typical Pico headset (together with PC VR streaming). That leaves the treadmill itself at $1,900, the price of a high-end treadmill. The corporate can be promising an choice to finance the Omni One for $65 per 30 days.

And for those who actually consider in Virtuix and its imaginative and prescient, by way of the company’s crowd-investment campaign it’s providing a 20% low cost on Omni One (or extra, relying upon the quantity invested). The marketing campaign has raised $4.4 million to this point.

Proceed on Web page 2: Omni One Arms-on »