The Virtuix Omni, a virtual reality "treadmill", is no longer just a one-off prototype made by Jan Goetgelu. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $1.1 million from its original $150,000 goal, the Omni is now available for a preorder for $499.
Each "Virtuix Omni Natural Motion Interface" includes a treadmill platform, a pair of shoes with frictionless soles, a support harness and special tracking hardware and software. Virtuix expects to have the Omni delivered by March 2014.
Naturally, since the platform is pretty darn heavy, freight shipping won't be cheap — $60-90 in the U.S. The company's website lists $100-150 for shipping to Canada, $250-300 to Mexico and $100-150. The lowest shipping appears to be to China for $40-60. And shipping to Africa — specifically, Egypt will cost $700. So before you break out that credit card, be sure to calculate the full cost and shipping to your country from the list here. Virtuix also says ordering more harnesses or shoes will push shipping costs northward.
Additionally, a set of two Omni platforms will cost you $1,109 and come with two harnesses, three pairs of special shoes and the aforementioned tracking hardware and software.
We had a chance to try the Omni offsite at E3 back in June and our impression is that it's definitely an interesting complementary device for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. While this editor was too short, and our interim editor Evan Ackerman was too tall to properly get strapped into the Omni without crippling our crotches in the harness, the Omni is exactly what it promises: body movement motion tracking.
Using shoes with modified frictionless soles to simulate walking, running, jumping, and turning while strapped inside of the giant "walker cradle" (as I like to call it) does require a learning curve, but it's nothing a hardcore gamer couldn't tackle. Walking with the shoes on the Omni is not like walking in real life. Instead, your feet end up slapping at the platform. It's a tad bit hard to describe, and this video does a better job showing you how walking in the Omni actually works.
Still, if you're one for cutting-edge gadgets that are ahead of the curve in terms of potential, look no further than the Omni. Pair it with an Oculus Rift (sold separately) and you might never come back into the real world ever again, except to eat and sleep.