Virtuix, a virtual reality startup, is building a VR treadmill for your home. The Omni One is an elaborate full-body controller that lets you physically run, jump and crouch in place. Following a previous device focused on business and arcades, it is expected to ship in mid-2021 for $ 1,995 and Virtuix announces the product with a crowdfunding investment campaign.
The crowdfunded Virtuix Omni began development in 2013. It’s not a traditional treadmill – it’s a low-friction platform that’s used with special low-friction shows or shoe covers and a harness. (You may recall Steven Spielberg̵
The Omni One is more compact than its predecessors, anchoring users to a single vertical bar instead of a ring around the entire treadmill. You can also fold it up and put it away. It will play games from a dedicated store that is expected to launch with 30 titles. Virtuix doesn’t have a comprehensive list, but plans to include third-party games alongside the experiences it develops on its own, with the latter category including games similar to Fortnite is call of Duty.
The retail Omni One will be a standalone system with a standalone headset – it’s being tested with a Pico Neo 2, but Virtuix will decide which headset to use for retail in the coming months. A $ 995 developer kit will only offer the treadmill portion. For users who want the full package, Virtuix is opening a Regulation A funding campaign, which allows companies to sell shares through a crowdfunding process. Fans of the concept must invest a minimum of $ 1,000 and in return will receive a 20% discount on the Omni One consumer, or a 40% discount if they invest in the first week.
Virtuix does not describe these investments as “pre-orders”. VR crowdfunding campaigns can be a high-risk proposition, as markets and technology can change rapidly as businesses are building a product. Virtuix has fulfilled its promises much better than some virtual reality startups, but Omni’s scope has nonetheless evolved over time. It was conceived as a home gaming system that would ship worldwide, but Virtuix was forced to cancel some pre-orders after the device got bigger and more complex. Virtuix later stopped offering the consumer treadmills to focus on VR arcades. Now, location-based virtual reality has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, although Virtuix says it is resuming installations for corporate customers.
The Omni One release date has been moved forward amid a wave of pandemic-driven enthusiasm for high-end home fitness technology. Virtuix describes the treadmill as something like a Peloton bike to gamers and sells it in a similar price range – while fitness isn’t the main focus, you’ll definitely move a lot in this thing. If the Omni One finds a niche (which is, of course, far from certain), Virtuix will return to square one by finally making home VR treadmills possible.