TOTW: Omni Virtual Reality Treadmill
Complete virtual reality is still something for the future, but many companies are trying to make this future come faster, including Google, Oculus Rift, Microsoft and more, but we are often still missing something very important: physical movement. Yes, there is motion-tracking like on an XBOX, but if you want to step into that virtual world and actually walk and jump around it like in Star Trek, you are – or were – out of luck. That’s where Omni comes in.
Omni is basically a treadmill. But better. Much better. Omni lets you roam free in video games that come for the Oculus Rift. No more hitting keys and looking at a screen. Paired up with the Oculus, Omni lets you walk through games such as Skyrim, Minecraft and Call Of Duty, while also looking around. Gaming will be transformed from sitting on a computer to actually sweating and running.
How does Omni take your movement and transport it into the game world? Well, the minute you step into Omni invisible magical leeches – erm, just kidding. Rather, you first don special motion-tracking shoes that give Oculus the information about how to move. It is not really a treadmill in the sense that the floor doesn’t move. But, the curve makes it easy to move around, jump, and run away from angry ogres. Secondly, there is a belt that keeps you from tripping and falling, which will be very important since this is such a new technology. And finally, the software.
You would think that the software for Omni would be really really complicated, due to the fact that you have to translate it into code that the Oculus understands. But it isn’t. The programmers were tricky. They coded it so that your foot movements get translated into key strokes, making it easy on the Oculus. Plus, the Omni software for Kinect for Windows understands many more movements including crouching, jumping and some arm gestures. With Omni and Oculus Rift combined, virtual reality is even closer than ever.