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The virtual-reality revolution is charging ahead, and one piece of hardware that could prove key to its future will start shipping later this year.
Virtuix is one of the companies working toward the VR future, and it plans to start shipping its Omni treadmill starting in July. Unlike Oculus and Sony, Virtuix isn’t working on the optics of VR. Instead, it has a treadmill-like device called the Omni that it will start sending out to customers that already preordered this summer. The $500 device enables players wearing VR headsets, like Oculus’s Rift visor, to wear special shoes and walk on a touch surface in any direction. The device then translates that foot motion into in-game action.
Consumers can still order an Omni today, but if you pay now, you won’t get it until September at the earliest. The $500 price also doesn’t include shipping. Virtuix is still working to confirm how much it will have to charge for packaging and sending the heavy device around the world. When we went through the ordering process, the system told us that the “shipping method and cost will be confirmed at the time of shipping.”
For $500, you do get the device, one harness (small, medium, or large), and one pair of Omni shoes. You’ll need the special footwear for the treadmill’s capacitive touch surface to feel your sliding motion.
Of course, an Omni is no good if you don’t also have an Oculus Rift or some other kind of virtual-reality headgear, so factor that in when you’re doing your cost-benefit analysis.
As for how well the Omni works, well, it’s hard to say. It’s important to keep in mind that the actual mechanics of walking on a surface is different from how it will work on this device. On Virtuix’s machine, you are sliding your feet as you remain still. That will probably require some time to get used to, and it’s potentially one more barrier that could keep certain people from enjoying VR.
Check out the team at Virtuix using the Omni to play a first-person version of Pokémon in the video below: