Image of Virtuix Omni.
Released January 2017
The Virtuix Omni is an omnidirectional treadmill simulator for virtual reality games and other applications. It uses a platform to simulate locomotion i.e. the motion of walking, requiring both special shoes or shoe covers and a surface that reduces friction. It works in conjunction with the HTC Vive, and allows gamers to walk or run within the game they are playing.
In 2013, the Virtuix Omni became one of the ten biggest technology Kickstarter campaigns, raising $1.1 million in funding. Since then, Virtuix has raised another $16 million from private and institutional investors.
As of mid-2017 the company no longer offers the Omni to consumers, instead opting for a commercial-only business model. Virtuix has shipped more than 2,500 Omni systems to date to over 500 commercial locations, making the Omni the most widely distributed VR hardware besides the headsets.
Virtuix was founded by Jan Goetgeluk. He quit his investment banking job to develop the project, investing 12 months of his time and a $200,000 personal investment to develop a prototype. The prototype for the Omni used dummy shoes and Kinect software to detect movement instead of the sensor system that became part of the final product. He applied for a U.S. patent on 23 October 2013 for his Locomotion System and Apparatus. Virtuix presented the prototype of the Omni at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 in Los Angeles, California where it was reported on by Engadget and other electronic publications, including The Verge.
Virtuix launched a Kickstarter campaign in June 2013 to raise money for manufacturing. The campaign was endorsed by Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey and overshot its funding goal of $150,000 within three and a half hours of it being posted. The campaign raised a total of $1.1 million when it closed, making it one of the top 10 biggest technology crowdfunding campaigns at the time. Goetgeluk presented the Virtuix Omni on an episode of the TV show Shark Tank in 2013, after selling approximately 3,000 units in the Kickstarter campaign. He failed to obtain funding from the Sharks after asking for $2 million for 10% of the company. However, Shark Tank investor and billionaire Mark Cuban invested in Virtuix after the airing of the show. Virtuix has raised a total of $16 million in additional funding from institutions and private investors. Investors have included 2020 Ventures, SeedInvest, Tekton Ventures, and Scout Ventures. In 2016, the company tested the waters under Regulation A for a potential offering of shares to the public.
The Omni presented at SXSW in 2014 where Virtuix founder Jan Goetgeluk also spoke on the topic of virtual reality. The final version of the Virtuix Omni was presented at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was described as "sleek" compared to its previous versions.
The Omni was also present at E3 in 2015, where it won an award for Best Technology.
In January 2016, the first production Omnis began to ship to consumers. In December of that year, Virtuix announced that they would not be able to fulfill international pre-orders, citing the logistical and financial difficulties of shipping such a large item internationally. As an apology, Virtuix refunded these customers with an additional 3% interest, compounded annually.
In September 2017, Virtuix announced Omniverse™, their proprietary content delivery and arcade management platform for commercial entertainment venues. Omniverse allows customers to preview and launch games from a VR interface, and enables operators to manage multiple Omnis from a single device such as a tablet, and keep track of analytics from a web based Control Center.
Omniverse currently features 16 virtual reality games optimized for arcade use. Among the first games to be released was Fallen Planet Studios' "Affected The Manor." - in a statement, the studios' co-founder Mark Paul said: "Omniverse represents an opportunity for us to launch our game on more than a thousand commercial entertainment systems at once, without the hassle of individual licensing agreements. We are excited to release Affected on the Omniverse platform and reach a worldwide audience in places that we hadn’t been able to capture before."
The most recent game added to Omniverse is "The Exorcist: Legion VR"
In March 2018, an omnidirectional treadmill based on the Omni's design played a prominent part in Steven Spielberg's movie adaption of Ernest Cline's novel, Ready Player One. An Omni had been provided by Virtuix to the studio during production.
The Omni is a locomotion simulator designed to work as a game controller, and allows gamers to walk within the game environment in which they are playing. It is used in tandem with the HTC Vive for a full virtual reality game setup. The surface is bowl-shaped and requires special low friction shoes or shoe covers. It uses inertial sensors to track a person's position, the length of their stride, and how fast they are moving. The information is then sent to a computer which translates the data into the game movements.
The updated Omni Harness design keeps the player stable in the Ring, without needing leg straps. As it rests on top of the support Ring, the player is able to turn rapidly while walking, jogging, or running, without the user having to rotate the vertical support along with them. Since its first release, the motion tracking has also improved, allowing for a wider range of player speed.
The Virtuix Omni can also be used for military and sports training.
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