Now I know we love our keyboards. We get our zones and tension just right; the only way to play a game. But, wait, we don?t want to become ?laggards?. If a new concept is showing promise, we have to try it. Don?t we? Great things are exactly what ?virtual reality? is promising!
To start with, we have the ?Virtuix Omni? ? an omnidirectional treadmill without the mill. It utilizes special shoes with attached ?Pods?, a smooth surface, and an IMU detection system to pick up acceleration and foot placement. The deck is a large bowl to conform to the users stride or gait; this allows for constant tracking, and more accurate acceleration. The product is solid, complete with harness, and really affordable.
The first perk I see is no more lazy lumps. We have to feel the burn of those two ?klicks?, while still keeping our focus. We?ll have to jump back, shuffle and skedaddle to evade attacks. It can replace all of your keyboard controls related to position for most non-virtual reality games; the virtual reality games however, is where it will really shine.
The Omni does require the use of an ?Oculus Rift? headgear accessory. The retail version of the headgear will be available this year for a very affordable projected cost of about $200. ?Oculus? has a developer?s kit available now, complete with an SDK that will integrate with the ?Unreal Development Kit?, ?Unreal Engine 4?, and ?Unity 4?. The user version should be available midyear, and since the Omnis won?t begin shipping until August this year, all should come together just fine; given a little patience.
You might be wondering, why must I use headgear? Well, I did wonder. When you?re walking or running on real legs, perspective and direction are one and the same. If you want to turn around, your desk won?t follow you. Theoretically, you could use the Omni for ?w?, ?a?, ?s?, ?d? keys only, but I believe the user would have a hard time focusing on ?the screen, especially while jumping, or in a sprint.
Virtuix is releasing an SDK for developers to build around the Omni itself; I can see this opening up a slew of new software products on the market. We will probably see some creative implementations like sport games, exotic destination touring simulators, and maybe some health care applications. And 3D? Beyond the fact that the 110 degree scope that the user version of the Omni is planned to have, the headgear is also by necessity, a dual screen environment, so 3D can be implemented with comfortable results.
There are other manufactures making headway in VR gaming treadmills; Cyberith?s ?Vitualizer? has a fixed deck like the Omni; the Virtualizer?s deck is flat, and uses optical sensors from underneath. This conceptual product also includes a motion detection and movement in the waist support ring, to allow for squatting. If the optical sensors are accurate enough to respond actively to speed changes, this product may be a top option.
Another player in this new ?movement? is the ?Infinadeck?. This thing is about 5?x 5?, weighs 1000 pounds, will cost about $ 3000.00, and is 100% awesome. Its price alone puts it into a different category than the other two walking decks; the freedom and natural walking space put this product into a new class as well. But it really moves; it is a treadmill.
The engineering is very clever; the main belt is divided into sections, each of those sections is a belt moving at a 90 degree opposing angle to the main belt. Basically about 40 mini treadmills tied together to form the main belt. As such, the user can freely walk in any direction. For a proper game room this guy will be a worthy investment. No target release dates have been set at this time; but this one will be worth the wait.
The mobile industry has been developing VR concepts as well. Samsung?s VR headset, compatible with the Galaxy Note 4, is getting high customer ratings. What is so cool about that is the fact that both Samsung and Oculus, the rig?s manufacturer, say that this is only an ?innovator?s edition? and that the product is still seeing many changes. No doubt, more VR effective apps are coming as well as an improved version of the product. Controlling your apps is as easy as syncing a Bluetooth game controller to your phone.
For the health conscious ? hopefully all of us – we?ve had expensive treadmills and exercise bikes with scenic visual content for a while now; however. Multi-direction gaming treadmills can make exercising incidental. Think about it, would you rather walk a straight line down a virtual path, or have a free roaming African safari adventure!
The idea of fighting one to one boss battles, or one to many death matches using virtual reality gear, is endorphin rush, if only speculating. Realize that your physical limitations could lose you the victory, just as your endurance could assure victory! Start changing your diet now! It?s coming!