Virtuix Omni Translates Real Motion into Gaming
Motion controls never really took off among hardcore gamers, partially because waving a remote to mimic swinging a sword is not much more immersive than hitting a button. The Virtuix Omni takes the experience one step further by hooking players into a harness and letting them walk or run to control their in-game movements.
Tom's Guide had a chance to see the Omni ($499) firsthand at SXSW 2014. The device itself is a circular platform, big enough to hold one person taking average strides. Instead of having to readjust between each step, the Omni comes with a pair of tractionless shoes, which let a player slide back to the center of the platform between each movement.
Although it takes some getting used to, this lets players run or walk and see their movements reflected onscreen. A Virtuix representative assured us that it would work with any PC game, although we imagine that it will be easier to use with games that allow players to adjust movement sensitivity. At SXSW 2014, a representative demonstrated the device by playing competitive first-person shooter "Team Fortress 2."
The prototype at SXSW necessitated a Kinect sensor to track leg movement, but the final version of the Omni will be self-sufficient. The device will sport 40 capacitive sensors that track the position of a user's feet, how long his or her stride is and how fast he or she is moving. The Omni can then transmit this information to a computer just like a keyboard would.
Virtuix is also in the process of developing TRAVR: a first-person shooter that will take full advantage of the Omni's capabilities. You'll be able to walk, run, strafe, jump, crouch, sit and even move in reverse. The game will also take full advantage of VR glasses like the Oculus Rift.
By itself, the Omni may not add much to a game, but the staffer we saw was also outfitted with an Oculus Rift and a Top Shot Elite gun controller. Between the three peripherals, the experience appeared to be about as immersive as modern gaming tech gets.
The Omni is not cheap, especially if you want the appropriate eyewear and controllers to go along with it. That said, people who play a lot of first-person games (and have a lot of space) might find that it's just what they're looking for to really feel like they're inside a virtual world. The device should begin shipping in late May or early June.