With virtual reality gaining popularity and peripherals like PlayStation VR (formerly Project Morpheus) and Oculus Rift leading the charge into the brave new land of virtual reality, more news on the subject has sprouted up daily. From new and old titles made available in VR to technology advancements in the field, something is always going on with these headsets. However, some companies have made it their job to take VR one step further and give gamers a more full-body experience with their hardware.
Among a small list of these developers emerges Virtuix, a company that uses the Rift to accompany a small platform set-up they have named the Omni to give players the ability to physically walk in the cyber worlds they play in. The company also sponsors the development of the Hands Omni, which is a wireless glove that will allow a touch sensation when objects are picked up or interacted with.
Virtuix is in close competition with a like-minded developer, Cyberith, as they break into this highly anticipated form of gaming, but offer more competitive pricing than their opponent’s product, the Virtualizer. In light of this, it was Power Up Gaming’s Austin Flynn who had the privilege of interviewing Virtuix’s CEO, Jan Goetgeluk, to discuss development, compatible titles and the virtual reality experience.
Austin Flynn: This is my first time using virtual reality – this is so immersive; it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. How were you guys able to do that?
Jan Goetgeluk: Well, it’s taken some time. I’ve been working on the Omni for three years now and the company has existed for two years, but here we are. We have a final prototype that we’re going to start shipping this year, and it’s an incredibly immersive experience. That’s what we’re going for. We have a backlog of close to 5,000 pre-orders and we need to start shipping these units.
AF: So, how this works is, and this is just the demo that I played, but where you look is where you walk – and that’s the one thing that I would say players need to overcome. But you guys are working to make the character walk where your legs move, correct?
JG: That’s right, and the next step is independent gun tracking. So you can walk forward, look left, shoot right – all of this at the same time.
AF: Okay, and this is all going to be in the final product?
JG: Not the gun tracking. That’s the next step.
AF: Well that’s nice to see you guys are looking toward the future. There’s a lot of great games out here that don’t have VR support. Are you guys talking to developers and saying ‘Hey, we like what we see. We’d be really interested to get this game to be (compatible) with what we have.’
JG: The beauty of the Omni is that it works with any game; because in its basic form this just acts as a game controller to any game – any VR game – that uses a controller as inputs. You can plug in the Omni and it works out of the box.
AF: Do you guys have developers coming up to you saying ‘We would love to try this out.’
JG: Oh, definitely. We’re in touch with all the big developers – anyone who’s making VR content. We’re in touch with them to make sure they know the Omni and to make sure that everything works well together.
AF: Would you be willing to drop any names?
JG: I mean, we have a demo with Dreadhalls , for example, which is a VR game. We showed it at GDC and we showed it here, as well. Nothing major to announce at this time, but the content is there.
AF: Last question: You have a guy that runs this booth; he’s a pro at this! How long has he been with you guys, and how’d you get him?
JG: He’s actually a Kickstarter backer and also our community manager, and then he comes with us to the shows and he loves the Omni – he’s really good at it.
AF: He is phenomenal. He is able to complete a course that I did in a minute-and-a-half in 40 seconds. He looks like a natural, and anybody who plays games puts time into it just like that, so people are going to pick (the Omni) up and be able to run with it, correct?
JG: The other models we have demonstrating it – they’re just here for the show. This is their first time using the Omni, so you pick it up really quickly.
AF: Well, this is very exciting stuff. It could change gaming. Thanks very much, Jan.