Omni Treadmills – Run Into the Future (But Don’t Forget Your Wallet)
Run Into the Virtual Future (But Don’t Forget Your Wallet)
A look at the Two Big Consumer-Aimed Omni Treadmills
Virtual Reality is upon us, by friends. This year at EGX, I had the opportunity to try the Playstation VR (formerly Project Morpheus) and was blown away by the experience. I mean, wow. Playstation VR is slated for a 2016 release, as is the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. We will have plenty of choices for how to immersive ourselves mentally into new worlds. But what about immersing ourselves physically?
Back when Oculus first put VR in our minds as a tangible, reachable dream, a few people dreamed even further. We were introduced to the omnidirectional treadmill controller, a platform in which you could walk, run, crouch and jump your way through gaming. Paired with a VR headset and motion controllers, you would be transported into your favourite game, mind and body.
Two companies have come out of the woodwork with consumer-grade solutions: Virtualizer by Cyberith and Omni by Virtuix. Both ventures saw successful Kickstarter campaigns and are presently available available for pre-order with late 2015 / early 2016 releases.
The idea behind an omni treadmill peripheral is that your motion is the controller. As you walk on the surface, your character walks. As you turn, they turn. The immersion this gives you is phenomenal. Pushing an analog stick to make your Dovahkiin run sure is tiring – but imagine how tiring it would be if YOU were the one running, slinging spells, sneaking and stealing sweet rolls, and jump off High Hrothgar to your doom? I can’t think of a more ideal way to get fit than shouting dragons out of the sky (or running from bears)!
While they are both omni-treadmills, they have gone different ways with their execution. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, certainly.