It’s hard for a gamer to get some much-needed exercise, particularly PC gamers, who are usually stuck behind a monitor, where the only way to burn calories is to play a championship game of Starcraft. Now the Omni, a unique gaming treadmill and currently a Kickstarter project, wants to help you get buff while getting buffs.
According to Kickstarter, “The Omni will free gamers from passive, seated gameplay.”
Virtuix’ Omni isn’t just your average treadmill, where you turn it on and walk, the sound of your doctor’s warnings ringing in your ears. Here, you stand on within a support ring and support belt and walk omnidirectionally. In other words, you can turn in any direction you please. If the Omni works as well as the video, below, suggests it does, you can have a reasonable freedom of motion while gaming. Then the only thing ringing in your ears is the sound of your enemy’s death screams.
In a phone interview, Jan Goetgeluk, the CEO of Virtuix, told me the Omni “works with any game that uses keyboard, because our software translates body movements to keystrokes. Those keystrokes drive your avatar in the game, so any game that uses keyboard input can be played with the Omni.”
But to make this experience even more fun, Virtuix recommends the use of the Oculus Rift VR glasses. (The two companies are not partnered, “but we’re in good contact with them,” said Goetgeluk.) That, and a game gun in your hand, can make you feel as if you’re truly immersed in the gaming experience.
People who want in on the Kickstarter action can kick in as little as $10, but $249 will get you the support base (you have to build the the upper support structure on your own), while $399 will earn you the whole Omni. Pay $49 more, and you get an extra pair of the special shoes you’ll need to start your in-game adventure.
The Omni isn’t the only gaming exercise gear on the market: A previous gaming treadmill, GameRunner, had a similar mechanic, but the treadmill is a standard unidirectional model, which may feel more natural to some but not to others.
Although it looks like a product I would love, the Omni wouldn’t fit in many city-sized apartments (like mine). And those Oculus Rift glasses? Sold separately, my friend, which increases the cost of this self-propelled gamepad.
But if exercise is a chore that cuts into your gaming time, you might want to consider the Omni something like killing two birds with one AK-47.
Will Virtuix still make the Omni even if the Kickstarter fails to get started? “Yes. Even if our Kickstarter project fails, I believe there’s an incredible opportunity for virtual reality projects and the opportunity is only getting bigger every day,” said Goetgeluk.
I needn’t have bothered to ask that question: The Omni doubled its goal of $150,000 within its first few hours available.
Carol Pinchefsky, Contributor