My impression of the consumer Virtuix Omni

sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
Once again I had the pleasure of helping demonstrate the Omni at CES. The improvements over last year's prototype are many, so I'll get right to it.

The Harness
Smooth machined metal, contoured fabric with extra padding, you could wear this comfortably for hours.

The Ring
Sleek and rounded (the hard edges are gone). A bolt is no longer used to lock into place, which is good, because I kept dropping it. Just pull the handle down after you get in and you are secure.

The Base
Fewer grooves and an even better level of friction for easier locomotion.

The Shoes
Minor adjustments to the sole also contribute to the newly improved contact with the base. They are so comfortable you might forget you are wearing them, and then embarrass yourself by asking people if they have seen your shoes anywhere (cough).

Tracking
The capacitive tracking has gone, replaced with IMU based rechargeable pods that slot into the shoes. I much prefer these - the analogue speed is fantastic. Now that every ounce of effort you put into your speed-run is translated into the game, beating your best time is extremely satisfying. The pods themselves are beautiful, and you will want to carry them around with you to show your friends.

Height Adjustment
I only did this a couple of times, but it was really easy and quick compared to the prototype (you can forget the monkey-wrench). You can do it standing in the Omni, flipping the latches at the bottom open and closed with your feet, and using the handles on the ring to get it just right. The supports are clearly marked with numbers so you know where to set it.

Compatibility
Bluetooth means it will work with mobile HMDs like Samsung's Gear VR (someone used one instead of the Oculus DK2 during CES). Also, the tracking pods don't need an SDK to work with existing games - they can emulate a gamepad.

The Footplate
A surprising new addition, it acts as an additional stabiliser for the Omni as well as a docking platform where you can safely put on and take off your Omni shoes using its rubberised surface. It also adds to the futuristic look.

Power Button
Just for good measure, a big green power button has been added by the front - who doesn't like those?

Power Supply
You can now plug the Omni straight into the wall (adaptors will be provided), and use it to charge your Pods - awesome!

New Game - TraVR: Training Ops
An easier way to acclimatise to VR. Move through levels shooting targets, and try to beat your best time. I had one perfect run through and almost beat the 1 minute barrier (missed it by .3 of a second). I guess I should have run-and-gunned more. Holding one of the buttons brings up your sights to aim, and knocking out several targets in a row is a lot of fun.

I want to thank Virtuix for giving me this wonderful opportunity to try out the consumer model - it is so hard waiting for it to arrive, but seeing these improvements confirms that the extra development time has been well spent. The Omni will help bring about the VR revolution by adding to immersion, reducing simulator sickness, and making control schemes more intuitive. It will also restore physical activity to our lives and make gamers leaner and fitter. It is perhaps the most significant hardware invention of the millennia so far, in terms of the impact it could have on our daily lives. It has certainly made me feel like an action hero!

This is me having fun with the Omni on the last day of the show (check out my one-handed reload at 1:38, haha):



Any questions? :)
Community Manager at Virtuix

Comments

  • Thank you for this. Can't wait to get mine!
  • I'm late but how long were you able to use the Omni before fatigue became a hindrance to gameplay?
  • sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
    Hi @Sponge101, that's a difficult question to answer as it depends on a number of factors - how fit you are, and how fast and frequently you run on it. I am not super-fit but I can manage an hour, with a good mix of fast walking, jogging and sprinting. Slow it down a bit, and you could be on there for 2, 3, even 4 hours maybe. Of course I haven't tried going that long yet so I can't say for sure, but I am really looking forward to trying that over a weekend in January and I'll be sure to report back. If you're going to spend any length of time on there then it's important to stay hydrated, as with any physical exercise.
    Community Manager at Virtuix
  • I see. Yeah, multiplayer competitive Omni Arena is sure to be more strenuous on the Omni player than the time trial version. Can't wait to read your experience with it!

    Another question I have that follows up on the first question is obviously you're getting exercise but did at any time did you feel like you were getting exercise? And what major muscle in your legs were being utilized the most (I'm sure you felt soreness the first time you tried the Omni)? Thanks.
  • sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
    No, it does not feel like exercise. I hate exercise - HATE it. 5 minutes on a normal treadmill feels like an hour to me. An hour on the Omni is fun, so the time passes quickly. With regard to muscle groups, it's definitely more than one, but I think it particularly works your calves. Probably you're using them more to maintain your balance. That might even be one of the reasons beginners struggle a bit, because they don't have the fine motor control in their calves yet, a bit like a learner driver pressing the peddles - they can't make fine adjustments so the car jerks forward. If you're holding a gun controller the way I do for that long, it will also work your shoulder muscles.Your posture feels better afterwards too, like you've worked your back and abs; again that's probably from maintaining your balance.
    Community Manager at Virtuix
  • blazespinnakerblazespinnaker Posts: 235
    edited December 2015
    I'm trying to create a running game using a bow which you have to actually pull on the string to fire the arrow (pressing a switch will release both the string and the button on a vive controller). This should work a lot of other muscles as well. The bow will be optional, of course. The one I look forward to the most though is multiplayer boxing. I think that would be really incredible and a killer app for the Omni.
  • xxann5xxann5 Posts: 593
    @sutekiB nice overview. I have two questions for you...
    1. How long can the POD's be in use before they need to be charged. Given the tasks they perform and the type of hardware that's needed to do those tasks i would assume quite awhile.
    2. You said you can use the power adapter to charge the POD's. How is this done? A dock you plug them into or USB cables?
  • sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
    Thanks @xxann5 !

    1) I can't comment on this as the PODs I've used were not final. If this is something I can document in my review then I will do that. While the Omni seemed to be in a near-complete state back in January when I posted this, there have been quite a surprising number of revisions since then!
    2) Again I can't be too specific about what hardware is included in the box yet, but safe to assume there will be charging cables for the PODs as that's pretty standard for rechargeable devices.
    Community Manager at Virtuix
  • @sutekiB. Since you were using the DK2 how would you describe that experience? Did you found the DK2 lacking something that you wanted like higher resolution, higher refresh rate, better field of view, ect., or did that didn't matter once you were using it with the Omni and immersion took over and compensated for any shortcoming on the HMD side?

    @xxann5. I asked Virtuix that some time ago and while the hardware was not final at that time, the estimate I got was around 8 hours of continuous use. That's why I might buy extra PODs so I can hot-swap them when the first pair runs out of juice. I want to test the Omni first, however.

    @blazespinnaker. It's funny that you mentioned bow and boxing because I was just playing a game that has both: Sports Champions 2 There's no running or online multiplayer though so your future game should be more inviting to new/other people.
  • sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
    @Sponge101 I think the added sense of presence you get from the Omni does help compensate for the limited FOV and resolution on the DK2. I don't mind it that much when I'm in there. It's afterwards, especially at CES when I'm walking through the halls of the Venetian (or one of the other fancy Casino hotels) that I think to myself: 'Wow, if only the DK2 could render with my full FOV in life-like resolution and colour. How much more amazing would it be!'.
    Community Manager at Virtuix
  • Yeah, I guess being bombarded by all those effects at CES would make you think that, thanks. Sorry, thought of some more questions:

    1. What was your overall impression with the gun? Obviously it's not positionaly tracked but did it have all the features (buttons/button placement, handling/ergonomics, ect.) you wanted? Any problems?

    2. I heard that headphones add to immersion but I don't think I ever saw you using it in any videos, is there any particular reason not to?

    3. BTW, what made you do that one-handed reload? Was it something you saw on TV? I'm definitely going to try that!
  • sutekiBsutekiB Posts: 1,069
    edited December 2015
    Yep, Vegas is its own kind of virtual reality!

    1) I enjoy using the Cabela. Other than positional tracking, it'd be nice to have haptic feedback. It serves the purpose well until something like Striker VR comes along.

    2) I'm getting the volume through the speakers, so I don't really need headphones. In the levels I'm playing, there aren't a lot of subtle atmospheric sounds - it's a thumping electronic soundtrack. For Half-Life 2, headphones would be better.

    3) Ah, good question! I'm a child of the 80's so I grew up watching cheesy action flicks from the 80's and 90's. My idols growing up were 'Sly' Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kurt Russell. I think most of all though, I wanted to be Belgian martial arts action star Jean-Claude Van Damme - 'The Muscles from Brussels'. The single-handed reload comes from one of his classic movies - 'Hard Target', directed by John Woo. Here's the scene:



    Playing a FPS on the Omni makes you feel like an action hero. It's the closest I've ever got to living out my dream, so of course I couldn't resist! I may have a new trick to try out at CES, if they'll let me! Haha ;)
    Community Manager at Virtuix
  • Yes... the 80's... action... explosion... mullets... good times. My favorite film of Jean-Claude is Street Fighter, even though many people didn't like it there's just something about it that appeals to me. Maybe because it didn't take itself too seriously?

    It's an interesting point you make about feeling like the hero. I've played games (I'm sure you and many others have as well) for a long time but I have to admit that at no time did I ever feel like I was the hero or actually in the game; I was just controlling an avatar via a gamepad. When I discovered PC gaming and more recently different input for my PS3 (gun, steering wheel, flight stick, etc.) I found that by changing certain input for certain games I was having a lot more fun. I've played CS:GO on max settings on PC and it was fun for a while but I eventually got bored. I've been playing CS:GO on PS3 with sub-par settings with a gun and move for the past week and it's like a totally new experience: more immersive, fun, and replayable. This is what I'm hoping for with the Omni once it arrives, a totally new, refreshing experience where I also can feel like I'm the hero.

    As for the new trick, as long as you don't break anything I'm sure Jan will be cool with it; he's a pretty easy-going guy as far as I can tell. Then again you're the one who has actually met him and the team so you would know better than me :)
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