Omni-directional treadmill lets your legs do the game controlling

The Virtuix Omni is a multi-directional treadmill that can be paired with the Oculus Rift to create a fully immersive virtual reality.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

The Virtuix Omni is a multi-directional treadmill that can be paired with the Oculus Rift to create a fully immersive virtual reality.

(Credit: Virtuix)

We've seen gaming treadmills before. They usually look like something you'd find in a gym, only with controllers or keyboards attached; at best, they seem like a clumsy solution, requiring further input to turn and only allowing you to walk and run.

A new piece of kit, though, not only lets you run and walk, but also turn in 360 degrees as well as crouch and jump, meaning a fully immersive experience — and a workout to boot, even tracking the energy you burn and the distance you travel. The Omni, two years in development by Virtuix, allows you to move naturally as though you were right there in a video game.

Able to be used with any game that uses a keyboard input, it consists of a grooved, concave platform, with a support ring and harness for safety and support.

The low-friction platform is paired with special shoes with pins on the soles. These fit into the grooves as the player moves around, keeping the player stable and preventing sliding sideways. As you play the game, sensors detect your movement, translating them into keystrokes that the game can understand — and, as demonstrated by the multitude of game demos on Virtuix's YouTube page, it works extraordinarily well.

Paired with the Oculus Rift, with which it is fully compatible, it seems to create a whole new world.

"The Omni will free gamers from passive, seated gameplay, unleashing the full potential of virtual-reality gaming with the Oculus Rift and future head-mounted displays," Virtuix said on its website. "Gaming on a keyboard, mouse or gamepad while seated pales in comparison to the intense experience and fun that comes from actually walking, running and jumping in games."

And the best part is, it's designed to be affordable, with the base option going for US$249 on Kickstarter. Unfortunately, that tier is now completely sold out — but you can still grab it for as little as US$429, which still seems like a pretty good bargain to us.

Hurry up, though; with still a massive 46 days to go at time of writing, and only a handful of days in, the campaign has already raised US$575,351 of its US$150,000 goal, and completely sold out of the first six tiers of the treadmill.