On Star Trek: The Next Generation, the USS Enterprise had a Holodeck. This was a virtual reality system that allowed users to create any environment, including furniture and even people, so the spaceship’s crew members could relieve stress by at its core playing immersive games. It was a tantalising sci-fi TV show concept but could it be made reality? It seems so as Virtuix Omni has found a way to translate a player’s physical movements like walking and running into a video game, and taken us one step closer to a holodeck.
— Sean Bouchard (@ndef) March 5, 2015
Unlike the few, and very costly omnidirectional treadmills in existence, Virtuix Omni doesn’t have an engine. The only moving part is the user, who wears a harness for stability, special shoes and the Oculus Rift headset. This allows players to walk, run, and move somewhat naturally in the game. I’ve got to tell you that the idea of getting in some cardio by running around Skyrim sounds like a lot of fun, and definitely better for my body than remaining stationary.
Is this experience affordable? Well that depends on your definition of affordable. The Virtuix Omni package is at this time USD $700 and doesn’t include Oculus Rift (Development Kit 2 is USD $350), game controller, and PC. If your own computer won’t suffice, then the AVA Omni VR Desktop is available. The basic model is USD $1400, while the ultimate edition is USD $2400. Since the Virtuix Omni relates movements to keystrokes, you’re somewhat limited to PC games. However since many major titles have PC versions, you’re not that limited in your gaming options.
If the cost isn’t an issue then the Virtuix Omni’s biggest drawback could be us – the players. The harness size goes up to 44” and this could be a problem for heavier folks, who could greatly benefit from the system. Another more basic obstacle is if you can use the Oculus Rift at all. There are some people who get very ill from such devices. So the Virtuix Omni isn’t for everybody but as with all technology, anything is possible and they’ve only just begun.