I'm a big fan of fitness wearables, contraptions, and apps. Some, like the OpenFit app, are practical, useful, and obvious. Others can be nightmarish, offensively intrusive, and unnecessary, like Amazon's Halo tracker. Every now and then, though, something comes along that's just plain ridiculous. The virtual reality (VR) treadmill from Virtuix is one such product.
The Omni One is billed as a "full-body controller" that Virtuix is crowdfunding, and which it expects to launch next year at a price point of $1,995. Less a treadmill than a low-friction omni-directional, low-friction pad, it's designed for gaming primarily, but also looks like it'll give you a serious workout... assuming you don't injure yourself, that is.
The device keeps you in one place with a VR headset on, via a vest that connects to a weight-bearing arm that's able to move around the platform. Up to 30 games will be supported at launch via a dedicated store, and in them, you'll be able to walk, run, kneel, crouch, and jump. Your pets are going to hate it. So will your insurer.
Health insurance first — Omni One seems more befitting for a tradeshow than an actual VR gaming setup for your home. Don't get me wrong. It looks pretty fun. But I'm not pretty sure I'd fall off it or take too large a step or generally mess myself up with it in no time.
For added trepidation, The Verge reported when it first tried it out that there's a learning curve that demands some trial and error. Like riding an electric unicycle, to adjust your speed you need to shift your body weight. In order to walk "forward" (without ever moving at all), you move your head in the direction you want to go and keep it pointed at your target while moving your limbs.
We can't help thinking this sort of technology is best-suited to a country where the healthcare system is not dystopian. Nonetheless, if you're wealthy, reckless, or just better coordinated than we are and you're really keen to add physicality to your VR games, Virtuix plans to offer a $995 developer kit for the Omni One which comes with the treadmill only — you'll need to supply your own VR headset. For those interested in the full package, Virtuix wants you to invest $1,000 (at least) and you'll get a 20 discount on the Omni One.