Riding on virtual reality fever, Virtuix raises $3M round for Omni VR treadmill


Riding on virtual reality fever, Virtuix raises $3M round for Omni VR treadmillAbove: A Virtuix 360-degree treadmill plus an Oculus Rift headset makes for a terrifyingly immersive video game experience at GamesBeat 2013.
Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

Virtual reality continues to be hot in the wake of Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR. And Virtuix is cashing in on that sentiment with a $3 million funding for its Omni virtual reality treadmill.

Jan Goetgeluk of Virtuix

While Oculus provides the goggles to view virtual 3D worlds, the Omni provides the motion input that allows you to physically walk, run, or jump inside a 360-degree virtual environment. It can make you feel more immersed in a virtual reality application. The omni-directional treadmill is part of a growing ecosystem of technologies that are necessary to give consumers a complete virtual reality experience.

The funding comes from chief investors Tekton Ventures and Maveron. Other investors include Scentan Ventures, Radical Investments, Scout Ventures, StartCaps Ventures, and a group of private investors.

Jan Goetgeluk, the chief executive of Houston, Texas-based Virtuix, told GamesBeat that the company will use the money to expand production and fuel the commercial launch of the treadmill. The $500 treadmill could be used to enhance games, but it could also be used in fitness, tourism, and social gatherings, Goetgeluk said. It is aimed at getting you off the couch and actively moving around.

“Virtual reality is poised to become a mass market,” Goetgeluk said. “Oculus provides the visual aspect of virtual reality, and we provide the motion. The Omni transforms seated virtual reality into a fully immersive, active experience. These funds ensure that we can deliver a great virtual reality platform to our passionate existing community as well as to new audiences and markets that are emerging every day.”

Virtuix has already presold more than 3,000 Omnis to date, and it plans on delivering the units later this summer. Orders placed today are expected to be shipped in September. While it works with virtual reality headsets, Omni provides hardware, sensors, and software that translate motion input into a game or other application.

“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,” said Jai Choi, the founder and managing partner of Tekton Ventures. “The Omni is just scratching the surface to the possibilities, and we’re honored to be working with Jan and the Virtuix team.”

Goetgeluk said Facebook’s acquisition was announced after Virtuix was wrapping up its round. He said, “It didn’t change much for our funding, but it was a great validation of what we are doing.”

“When I demoed the Omni at the Game Developers Conference this year, I glimpsed the future of virtual reality,” said David Wu, a partner at Maveron. “The full-body experience was so real that when I finished, my heart was pounding, my legs were tired, and I was completely transported into another world. This technology has the ability to deliver immersive experiences to consumers in a way never before possible.”

Virtuix previously raised $1.1 million in a Kickstarter campaign to launch the company’s development. It has also listed its current round on SeedInvest, an equity crowdfunding platform that enables accredited investors to participate in a venture capital funding.

Goetgeluk founded Virtuix in 2013 though he began the research much earlier. The company now has 16 employees.