Gamers generally love to experience as much realism as possible while playing games, as evidenced by the large number of gaming accessories currently on the marketplace and in development. None, however, compare to the Omni from Virtuix, a full virtual reality interface platform that easily fits into a living room. Unlike traditional virtual reality headsets, the Omni offers full virtual reality immersion, with the ability to run, jump and move around, providing game players with a gaming experience never before accessible to the average user. Essentially, Omni is a virtual reality treadmill that literally allows you to exercise while fully immersing yourself in your favorite game.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality the layman’s term for a computer simulated environment in which the user, or gamer, canÂ become immersed inside the game environment. Virtual reality has been a very popular staple among science fiction authors, scriptwriters and movie directors for as long as books and movies have been made, although it is only through recent advances in technology and computers that virtual reality has actually become a reality.
Virtual reality systems generally use some form of headset or helmet that contains a series of video displays. While immersed inside a virtual reality environment, the user sees him or herself, or rather a computer generated representation of him or herself, inside the game or video. Although normally limited to simple headsets or helmets that only allow the user to look around inside the game, full virtual reality setups like the Omni allow much more, like the ability to actually walk, run, jump and crouch.
How the Omni Works
While specific technical details about the Omni project has not been released to the general public, most likely due to the fact that the patents for the technology is still pending, enough information has been released to gain an insight into how the Omni platform works. The Omni is, of course, a VR base platform that the user climbs onto, closing a top ring around them. The user is then outfitted with a belt that not only helps secure him or her inside the platform, but also helps send data back and forth between the game and the platform which includes information about the user’s position. This belt features flanges that rest over the Omni’s support ring to prevent the user from slipping or falling while using the device.
The base of the Omni features a grooved low friction surface that utilizes special shoes. The shoes, worn by the player, contains special pins that fit into the grooves and stabilizes the feet, preventing them from accidentally sliding.
Using specially developed software the Omni translates the user’s movements into the normal key strokes that many of today’s games use to move a character around. This means that, while there is currently no support for gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3, most computer games that use a keyboard for navigation will work with the Omni. The Omni platform is, therefore, compatible with the Microsoft Kinect for Windows. And since the device generated key strokes from the user’s movements, the Omni can be played with any PC game that uses the keyboard for input, without any complicated initial setup required.
What You Will Need to Use the Omni
In order to use the Omni for virtual reality gaming you will, of course, need the Omni platform itself. But the Omni does not come with a virtual reality headset, so you will need to purchase one. You will also need a suitable game. An SDK will be provided with the Omni for developer who wish to integrate VR into their program.
Omni also has it’s own mini video game known as Travr which is the first game designed exclusively for Omni. The game is set in a futuristic world with a motion dynamic landscape designed to train you to use Omni to it’s fullest.
In fact, the Omni is now available for pre-order on the store, with the basic package costing just $499 for the treadmill and VR tech.