The Omni VR Treadmill Raises $3 Million in Seed Funding

The Omni VR Treadmill Raises $3 Million in Seed Funding

The VR treadmill, funded successfully on Kickstarter last year, has attracted more investment to help bring the peripheral to market.

The Omni VR treadmill peripheral works with VR headsets to let players move around in game environments by walking, running, jumping, or crouching on the treadmill. Developer Virtuix ran a successful funding campaign for the Omni on Kickstarter last year, raising over $1 million dollars to develop the peripheral's hardware and software. Virtuix announced today that it has completed a $3 million round of seed investment that will be used toward completing and selling the Omni. The investors leading the round of seed funding are Tekton Ventures and Maveron, with additional investments from Scentan Ventures, Radical Investments, Scout Ventures, StartCaps Ventures, and private investors.

"The funds will enable us to grow our team and expand our mass production and distribution network as we get ready for our commercial launch this summer, ensuring that we can deliver a great virtual reality platform to you as well as to new markets and audiences that are emerging every day. Where our Kickstarter funds were aimed at developing the Omni and bringing the product to market, this latest round is designed to broaden our distribution and meet global demand as virtual reality becomes a mass market, new medium," says Virtuix in an update on the Kickstarter project. Tekton founder Jai Choi says, "We believe Virtuix's virtual reality technology will not only disrupt the immersive gaming landscape but will enable even more useful, personal and entertaining experiences in areas beyond gaming: training and simulation, fitness, medical, military."

The Omni is compatible with the Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra, and other game controllers. Virtuix has more than 3,000 pre-orders for the Omni, and expects to begin shipping to customers this summer. The Virtuix Omni is currently available for pre-order for $499 USD. The Escapist's own Andrea Rene checked out the Omni at CES 2014.

Source: Omni Kickstarter Update #21 via GamesIndustry.biz

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Looking forward to the Facebook buyout.

I can't wait until footage of this thing is used to prove video games are training mass murderers.

Anyway, I'd imagine this thing would need its own games, or at least it wouldn't work well in multiplayer unless everyone else is using it, the reason being that it likely trades ease of use for immersion. Looking forward to the day you can play ArmA and get exercise at the same time.

Wow, $499 is very reasonable for something like this. I was thinking it would be at least $1000. Let's wait and see what people think of it before I sign up for one, but it looks pretty good so far.

This is getting ridiculous. Yes there's a niche market for VR, but come on. First Rift gets bought for 2 billion (I'd be surprised if there are 2 billion dollars worth of people who would buy it), now more people are investing in this? If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a mini-bobble forming, but it's only two companies so it's unlikely to have any real effect on the industry when Rift flops and this underperforms.

You mean the NIKE Omni VR Treadmill right?

I've wanted this since it was announced. However, I want it to work with a controller plugged in to a normal system running on a tv. That way you still have to walk/run to get everywhere, but you can use the controller to turn, instead of having to use VR so you can turn in circles all the time. I think now you have to use it with some kind of VR tech.

If they do make it so I plug it into my computer, plug in a controller, boot up Skyrim and turn on my tv (I play everything on my tv) and go to town while other people in the room can watch too, then I'll get it. ... When I have money.

Edit: After a quick browse of the forums... what I want can happen, it can work with a monitor/tv and wired devices.

Hmm. Must thoroughly consider.

Zontar:
This is getting ridiculous. Yes there's a niche market for VR, but come on. First Rift gets bought for 2 billion (I'd be surprised if there are 2 billion dollars worth of people who would buy it), now more people are investing in this? If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a mini-bobble forming, but it's only two companies so it's unlikely to have any real effect on the industry when Rift flops and this underperforms.

Consider the following factors for why you might be wrong:

1. None of us have any actual data about the potential demand for functioning VR. We can make guesses based on how "it's a kind of peripheral and those were all niches too", or "it's a kind of 3D and other forms of that were niches too", but at the same time, VR is also presenting itself as a new medium.

2. So far, significantly increased Presence has always proven to be a major trend-setter in the entertainment industry. Movies have became a major medium even in spite of literature being far more easily accessible, Television has beaten Radio in cultural significance, and Polygonal rendering in consoles has taken off in the PS1 era and left behind sprite-based 2D genres as old-school niches.

3. The people who have actually tried it tend to become fanatic supporters, including Zucckerberg, and it had the same reaction from many journalists, in contrast with gimmick products which tend to have a more subdued reactions, ranging from bafflement to praising the "innovation".

4. The traditional public perception of VR in sci-fi,as another futuristic Next Big Thing. Usually when something gets portrayed that way, it indeed does become the next big thing (such as the Internet, mobile phones, touchsceens, flying machines), unless it tries to be but the theoretically working concept still has obvious engineering limitations yet (jetpacks, flying cars, videophones. By all accounts, VR has been in the latter category for decades, due to problems that are getting sorted out right now.

Alterego-X:

Zontar:
This is getting ridiculous. Yes there's a niche market for VR, but come on. First Rift gets bought for 2 billion (I'd be surprised if there are 2 billion dollars worth of people who would buy it), now more people are investing in this? If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a mini-bobble forming, but it's only two companies so it's unlikely to have any real effect on the industry when Rift flops and this underperforms.

Consider the following factors for why you might be wrong:

1. None of us have any actual data about the potential demand for functioning VR. We can make guesses based on how "it's a kind of peripheral and those were all niches too", or "it's a kind of 3D and other forms of that were niches too", but at the same time, VR is also presenting itself as a new medium.

2. So far, significantly increased Presence has always proven to be a major trend-setter in the entertainment industry. Movies have became a major medium even in spite of literature being far more easily accessible, Television has beaten Radio in cultural significance, and Polygonal rendering in consoles has taken off in the PS1 era and left behind sprite-based 2D genres as old-school niches.

3. The people who have actually tried it tend to become fanatic supporters, including Zucckerberg, and it had the same reaction from many journalists, in contrast with gimmick products which tend to have a more subdued reactions, ranging from bafflement to praising the "innovation".

4. The traditional public perception of VR in sci-fi,as another futuristic Next Big Thing. Usually when something gets portrayed that way, it indeed does become the next big thing (such as the Internet, mobile phones, touchsceens, flying machines), unless it tries to be but the theoretically working concept still has obvious engineering limitations yet (jetpacks, flying cars, videophones. By all accounts, VR has been in the latter category for decades, due to problems that are getting sorted out right now.

1. This isn't functional VR, it isn't even close to functional VR, and is only a cheaper model of something which has existed for years. This isn't anything new, and there's already data which exists on the market demand. Saying the market for it isn't worth was Facebook paid for it isn't inaccurate.

2. This isn't a new media, it's a peripheral extension of an already existing one. Major difference, especially since even at its cheapest it quadruples the cost of using said media.

3. This is a characteristic of a niche product, not a mainstream one.

4. This has been shown time and again to not be nearly strong enough to let these projects do more then marginally succeed. This is far from the first time someone has tried, and the only thing the mainstream has said with their wallets is "it's an interesting idea, but not one we actually want once we try".

Zontar:
This is getting ridiculous. Yes there's a niche market for VR, but come on. First Rift gets bought for 2 billion (I'd be surprised if there are 2 billion dollars worth of people who would buy it), now more people are investing in this? If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a mini-bobble forming, but it's only two companies so it's unlikely to have any real effect on the industry when Rift flops and this underperforms.

Its the same thing that went on with the re introduction of 3D in cinemas and then 3D TVs....

No ones really buying or using them (the TVs) but the industry is pushing for it.

I still can't afford it, but too am surprised by how cheap it is. Might be great for pcs and maybe it can make Kinect actually functional.

Karadalis:

Its the same thing that went on with the re introduction of 3D in cinemas and then 3D TVs....

No ones really buying or using them (the TVs) but the industry is pushing for it.

Problem is, industry already has it, and has been using better ones then Rift for years now, so this is a product for the consumer, not industry.

SKBPinkie:
Wow, $499 is very reasonable for something like this. I was thinking it would be at least $1000. Let's wait and see what people think of it before I sign up for one, but it looks pretty good so far.

How can you tell if it's a reasonable price without knowing what it actually does. Looks just like a glorified baby-walker, and serves roughly the same purpose (protect people from falling over while they clumsily explore a strange world).

Then again, people were willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for fake plastic "instruments" back in the Rock Band/Guitar Hero days, and by comparison I suppose at least this is slightly more flexible in terms of what types of games it would help you enjoy.

Avaholic03:

SKBPinkie:
Wow, $499 is very reasonable for something like this. I was thinking it would be at least $1000. Let's wait and see what people think of it before I sign up for one, but it looks pretty good so far.

How can you tell if it's a reasonable price without knowing what it actually does. Looks just like a glorified baby-walker, and serves roughly the same purpose (protect people from falling over while they clumsily explore a strange world).

Then again, people were willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for fake plastic "instruments" back in the Rock Band/Guitar Hero days, and by comparison I suppose at least this is slightly more flexible in terms of what types of games it would help you enjoy.

Something that needs to support your weight, be resilient, be sensitive enough to know where exactly your feet are, needs to differentiate different types of speeds, etc. etc. Hell, the mechanical engineering side of things alone would be a lot of trouble. Forget about the electrical / computer science side of things. Of course, it still has to deliver on these things, but if it does, then it will be worth it.

Whereas the stuff you referred to (the plastic instruments) have pretty much no complications, it's literally a larger controller, with less functionality. Oh, and I never bought those.

Also, seriously - "glorified baby walker"? Really?

SKBPinkie:

Avaholic03:

SKBPinkie:
Wow, $499 is very reasonable for something like this. I was thinking it would be at least $1000. Let's wait and see what people think of it before I sign up for one, but it looks pretty good so far.

How can you tell if it's a reasonable price without knowing what it actually does. Looks just like a glorified baby-walker, and serves roughly the same purpose (protect people from falling over while they clumsily explore a strange world).

Then again, people were willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for fake plastic "instruments" back in the Rock Band/Guitar Hero days, and by comparison I suppose at least this is slightly more flexible in terms of what types of games it would help you enjoy.

Something that needs to support your weight, be resilient, be sensitive enough to know where exactly your feet are, needs to differentiate different types of speeds, etc. etc. Hell, the mechanical engineering side of things alone would be a lot of trouble. Forget about the electrical / computer science side of things. Of course, it still has to deliver on these things, but if it does, then it will be worth it.

Whereas the stuff you referred to (the plastic instruments) have pretty much no complications, it's literally a larger controller, with less functionality. Oh, and I never bought those.

Also, seriously - "glorified baby walker"? Really?

You're giving them way too much credit. Aside from being rigid enough to hold an adult human upright, not much is going on structurally. There certainly isn't anything going on mechanically, aside from the very simple rotation at the waist which is tied to the harness the person wears. Could have been designed by a freshman engineering student.

As for the motion detection, it's not really clear how they're doing it. Could just be ripping off the kinnect with a couple cameras and some motion capture software. It definitely isn't an elaborate mechanical engineering feat, since like I said the only moving part on the whole device is the 1 degree of rotation around the waist area.

I'm betting we all could pool together and get a cool million by kickstarting a giant VR Gerbil Wheel. As long as it says "VR" they will throw money at it!

 

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