Personal Omnidirectional Treadmill Simulator

The concept of Omnidirectional Treadmill Simulator (for home use) first come into my sight in 2013 CES, when Virtuix showcase their prototype which was originated from a Kickstarter campaign.

The Omni-directional treadmill replaces the traditional use of joystick and allows players to walk and run in 360 degrees inside videos games using body movement, providing a higher level of immersion while gaming.

The technology was immature when it was first released 9 years ago as the devices only allow simply walking and running. The technology has matured over the year, the latest product allows the user to perform more complex movements such as crouch, kneel and jump. The following video shows the latest version of the treadmill.

Other companies have followed the trend. The following video shows a similar product by another company that is currently available for purchase.

Gaming is often associated with unhealthy behaviour as gamers spend most of their time sitting down in front of the screen. I like how the device will change this idea to “Some Gaming device is healthy as the player will have to move their body while playing the game”. providing a platform for the gamer to play healthy while moving.

When playing a VR game, the players will often minimize their lower body movement. Otherwise, they might end up being one of the people in the video.

The treadmill improves the safety of the player by fixing the player in one place. It also reduces the space required for the VR setup, as a larger space is usually required to avoid collision with furniture while playing VR games. It also allows the player to make intensive movements such as running, which is usually impossible for a home VR setup due to limited space. The devices also improve the immersion of the VR experience as the player will not need to consistently worry about their location, avoiding the fate of ending up as one of the people in the video.

The Omni-direction treadmill is a heavy source of noise pollution. The noise produced by the device may be unbearable to the player family/housemate, especially when the player is making intensive movements such as running. The device may not be suitable for player who often plays the game at midnight and might disturb their family/housemate when using the devices. One of the possible improvements is to make use of noise damping material to reduce the sound produced when interacting with the devices. It is also possible to provide a soundproof dome (which the player can buy as an add-on) that cover the entire devices to minimize noise pollution when using the devices.

The notion of “walking” is replicated by using specialized shoe or shoe covers and a surface that reduces friction. It gives a feeling of walking on ice, which isn’t that realistic and immersive. The devices may be improved by using an actual Omnidirection treadmill.

The current technology is current immature (and bulky). I will be looking forward to a future(decades?) where a true Omni-direction treadmill is available to home consumers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.