VR Omni-Directional Treadmill Lets Players Run and Gun

Between the Virtuix Omni prototype and Oculus Rift, dodging rockets in Team Fortress 2 is more heart-pumping then ever.

The Oculus Rift is an impressive piece of technology, and it’s easy to understand why enthusiasts are enamored with it. It’s arguably one of the most immersive gaming VR headsets we’ve seen in years, and avoids many of the design pitfalls noted in other models. That all said, if you’re only using the Rift headset, it still won’t feel like you’re on Star Trek‘s holodeck just yet. If you really want that full-motion experience, and can handle the potential nausea, what you’ll need is a gaming rig that lets you walk around as well. Enter the Virtuix Omni VR Treadmill, an omni-directional treadmill that allows movement in any direction and, when used with games like Team Fortress 2, could make digital environments physically and mentally immersive.

The attached video gives a pretty good idea of how the system works. Players needs three elements: An Oculus Rift, a Virtuix Treadmill, and a rifle-based controller. With the Rift providing visuals, the treadmill translates movements into in-game actions while the player remains fixed in a single location (which is important, so you don’t trip over your couch or loved ones). The entire setup lets you aim, walk, run, and even strafe, all while dodging bullets and dishing out damage. “The action feels like real running,” says Virtuix CEO Jan Goetgeluk. “The immersion is intense. I had a former Marine try HL2 yesterday, and he was slightly shaking.”

Naturally, this particular configuration has some downsides. Your in-game movement speed is set by Team Fortress 2, not real-life running, so a certain disconnect is to be expected. That’s not even bringing up the jarring sensation you’d feel when rocket-jumps send you flying while your actual feet are on the ground. Still, the fact that it’s functioning at all is very promising for the technology, and if you’re an enthusiast who won’t be happy until holodecks are a reality, perhaps you won’t have as long to wait as we thought.

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