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Until recently, the quest for a fully immersive, virtual reality home gaming experience has remained just out of reach. The development of the omnidirectional treadmill has been a major step towards achieving that goal. The technology is still in the beta stage and so far mass production of omnidirectional treadmills for the home consumer has been cost prohibitive. The Virtuix Omni remains the most popular of the omnidirectional treadmills and is the only one so far to have, at least briefly, made the world of fully immersive virtual reality available to the home user. In this Omni Treadmill review, we will take a look at where the Omni treadmill is today and what is being accomplished by its closest competitors in the realm of virtual reality.
Omni Treadmill Review
The label ‘treadmill’ may be a bit of a misnomer. The Virtuix Omni Treadmill bears little resemblance to the traditional treadmills found in gyms and medical clinics. There is no conveyor belt which is powered more or less by normal human foot power. Instead, the Omni treadmill features a convex plate with a low-friction surface that reads the movements of low-friction shoes worn by the user. The circular design allows the user to turn 360 degrees and “move” in any direction indefinitely without being constrained by the size of their physical space. When paired with the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, the Virtuix Omni offers a true immersive virtual reality gaming platform. Virtuix has retreated from the home gaming realm and now markets and sells the Omni treadmill to commercial buyers only. With this Omni treadmill review, we will explore the Omni Treadmill and its competitors to learn more about the current outlook for in-home, fully immersive, virtual reality gaming.
The Virtuix Omni Treadmill is marketed as the smallest virtual reality treadmill available. That being said, the Omni treadmill is still a sizable machine. The full Virtuix Omni platform once assembled measures 48” x 43” x 30” and weighs approximately 256 pounds.
Virtuix Omni Treadmill was initially offered on Kickstarter in 2013. It was one of the most popular startups from that year. The startup raised a total of $1.1 million in seed funding to help launch their virtual reality fully immersive gaming platform. The lion’s share of the money was raised through the pre-sale of home units to eager customers both in the United States and abroad. Customers paid approximately $700 each to pre-order in-home units. Virtuix was able to begin fulfilling these orders in January 2016. However, by December 2016 the company realized that production was simply not sustainable at this price point, the remaining orders were canceled, and full refunds were issued with interest. Virtuix transitioned the Omni Treadmill to a commercial product and discontinued all support for consumer products that were sold previously. The company’s website boasts more than 3,000 units have been sold to approximately 500 different commercial venues in 45 different countries.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Kat Walk Mini – KAT VR – Omni Directional Treadmill
- Vue VR
Omni Treadmill Review
Price = $$$
The Virtuix Omni Treadmill is now sold to commercial buyers only. The current price is only available by requesting a quote through the company website. The most recent price reported was approximately $7000 – $9000 per unit.
Ease of Use = 2-stars
There is a fairly steep learning curve that must be traversed before users can become comfortable and proficient on the Virtuix Omni platform. The convex treadmill base requires the user to move with a front-to-back sliding motion rather than a normal heel-to-toe walking gait. Many users have reported that while this abnormal gait feels very unnatural, with repeated use, the brain becomes accustomed to it and gameplay becomes much more comfortable. The Virtuix Omni also requires the user to wear specially designed low-friction shoes that can be tracked by the gaming platform. Because of the steep learning curve required to overcome the unnatural walking movement and the need for specialized footwear, for this Omni Treadmill review, we were only able to rate the Virtuix Omni 2 stars for ease of use.
Assembly Time = 3-stars
The assembly process for the Virtuix Omni Treadmill will certainly require some handyman prowess and at the very least an aptitude for following technical instructions. That being said, the company provides both an illustrated assembly manual and step-by-step video instruction to guide the user through the assembly process. We did not have access to the official assembly manual for review but the videos available on the company website or on YouTube were both entertaining and provided thorough and easy-to-understand instructions with clear camera visuals of each step described. For this Omni Treadmill review, we rated the Virtuix Omni 3 stars for assembly time due to the complexity of the assembly being offset somewhat by the thorough instruction provided.
Design Quality = 5-stars
The design quality of the Virtuix Omni has garnered no complaints from users. As mentioned earlier, the official website features a number of easy to follow instructional videos which are mirrored on YouTube as well. There are a number of videos which specifically address troubleshooting steps for known problems but the majority of these involved software interface configuration rather than hardware troubles. For this Omni Treadmill review, we rated the design quality of the Virtuix Omni 5 stars.
Warranty = 5-stars
The Virtuix Omni Treadmill comes with a 6-month limited warranty when purchased through the company or one of its authorized distributors. Units purchased from a third-party or unauthorized distributor carry no such warranty. For this Omni Treadmill review, we rated Virtuix Omni 5 stars for offering a warranty on a new and relatively untested technology.
- The smallest footprint of all virtual reality omnidirectional treadmills on the market to date
- The only virtual reality omnidirectional treadmill to be made available for in-home use
- Informative and entertaining instructional videos covering topics from installation and troubleshooting to how to clean and maintain the unit
- All sales of in-home units were halted in 2016
- Previously sold in-home units are not compatible with the proprietary Omniverse gaming package required for game play
- Players are required to wear special footwear when using the Omni Treadmill
Kat Walk Mini – KAT VR – Omni Directional Treadmill
The KAT Walk Mini is the latest offering from China-based KAT VR. The KAT Walk Mini is an omnidirectional treadmill though it claims to have improved upon the technology offered by its competitors by improving the sensitivity of its motion tracking sensors drastically reducing the lag between user motion and gameplay reaction. The KAT Walk Mini offers universal compatibility and is able to pair with Virtual reality headsets from HTC and Oculus. The KAT Walk Mini boasts a smaller footprint than the original KAT Walk with new reduced dimensions of 59″ x 59″ x 62″ and a weight of approximately 187 pounds.
Price = $$
The KAT Walk Mini pricing is only available by requesting a quote from the company or one of its authorized distributors. There is an easy to access form available on the KAT VR website for requesting a quote. The most recent reported price via Amazon was approximately $3000 per unit plus approximately $1300 in additional shipping cost.
Ease of Use = 3-stars
The KAT Walk Mini faces many of the same challenges of the Virtuix Omni and other omnidirectional treadmill platforms. There is a steep learning curve while the user learns and adapts to the somewhat unnatural movements required by the platform. The overall response time between the user’s motion and the in-game vector’s reaction is reported to be much quicker on the KT Walk Mini than its competitors. The platform requires special footwear to be worn by the user and assistance is highly recommended for safety when stepping onto the slippery surface of the concave gaming platform. With these factors in mind, we rated the KAT Walk Mini 3 stars for ease of use.
Assembly Time = 5-stars
The KAT VR website has both illustrated assembly drawings and instruction manuals available for download. The assembly process is reported to be very simple and all required tools are included with the unit. Most users report requiring less than one hour from deboxing to a fully operational unit. We gave KAT Walk Mini 5 stars for assembly based on these reports.
Design Quality = 5-stars
The KAT Walk Mini has the same strong steel framework of KAT VR’s larger models and is therefore built to withstand the rigors of commercial arcade use. The KAT Walk Mini also brings a new and improved user experience to the table with an improved support system that frees the user from the rigid support ring and allows true 360-degree freedom of movement, giving users the ability to squat and jump as well as walk and run. We rate the design quality of the KAT Walk Mini a full 5 stars.
Warranty = 4-stars
The KAT Walk Mini comes with a 12 month limited warranty on the main components and a 3 month limited warranty on the accessories. Warranty is subject to early termination after two in-house repair services have been requested and performed on main components. We rated the KAT Walk Mini 4 stars for providing a 12 month warranty, but would have preferred it not have an early termination clause.
- Universal compatibility with all major virtual reality gaming platforms
- True 360-degree range of motion due to overhead wiring harness and no rigid center ring
- 12 month limited warranty on main components
- Steep learning curve needed to adjust to unnatural gait
- Cost is still prohibitively high for most home consumers
- Warranty contains early termination clause triggered by more than two major repairs
The Infinadeck is touted as being the only true omnidirectional treadmill for virtual reality gaming. Unlike the low friction concave platforms used by competitors, the Infinadeck instead uses a more traditional treadmill conveyer belt locomotion. The gaming platform uses two motors and a series of body-worn sensors to counteract and move the surface opposite the player in every direction providing constant resistance so the player is able to continue to walk and run an infinite distance in a small space.
Price = $$$
The Infinadeck is still in the beta testing phase and has not yet released a pricing structure. At an April 2018 trade show, the Infinadeck CEO alluded to the initial release price being greater than $10,000 per unit.
Ease of Use = 5-stars
The Infinadeck’s traditional conveyer belt treadmill locomotion affords a much more natural walking gait when compared to the low friction concave platforms used by the competitors. Walking and jogging feel very similar to using a traditional treadmill and require next to no learning curve. We rated the Infinadeck 5 stars for ease of use.
Assembly Time = Unknown
There is no mention of assembly requirements, again because the final production models have yet to be created. We were unable to offer a rating for this category.
Design Quality = 4-stars
The Infinadeck has the potential to outshine all of its competitors once polished up in the final production stages. The only units available for testing were unpolished prototypes and there are still multiple bugs and quirks that will be ironed out by final production process but for now, as tested, we were only able to rate the Infinadeck 4 stars for design quality.
Warranty = Unknown
The Infinadeck is still in beta testing and information has not yet been released regarding selling price or warranty information. We were unable to provide a rating for this category.
- Moving conveyor belt platform offers true omnidirectional treadmill locomotion
- No special footwear or harness required for use
- Dual motor driven gaming surface is able to provide traditional treadmill jogging and running workout
- Units are still in beta testing phase, no release date has been announced
- Units are likely to be marketed primarily to medical offices, military, police, and firefighter applications rather than arcade or home use
- Dimensions of 4.4′ x 5.6′ and around 500 pounds are substantially larger and heavier than competitor models
The Vue VR omnidirectional treadmill operates in much the same fashion as the other concave low friction platforms. The Vue offers buyers a choice between the overhead support beam harness system in their CV model and the movable backplate mounted harness of its HV model. Units are available to purchase for both commercial and home use.
Price = $
The Vue VR is by far the cheapest available omnidirectional treadmill option. Originally priced around $1600 when released, the price was slashed to approximately $900 in 2017.
Ease of Use = 3-stars
The Vue VR struggles with the same short-comings that are common to all of the low-friction, concave surface systems so far. There is a steep learning curve to master the unnatural gait and the footing feels very insecure. We rated the Vue VR 3 stars for ease of use due to these difficulties.
Assembly Time = 4-stars
Assembly requirements and difficulty level appear to be on par with the KAT Walk Mini, as most users report having no trouble assembling by following included instructions. We rated the Vue VR 4 stars for assembly time.
Design Quality = 5-stars
The Vue VR features many of the same design features of its top two competitors. However, it also offers buyers the choice of either an overhead crossbeam harness support or a movable backplate harness. Buyers can also opt for a standalone control panel or no control panel for easier in-home use. Because of these added choices available to the buyer we rated the Vue VR 5 stars for design quality.
Warranty = 0-stars
We could find no mention of any warranty and were unable to provide a rating for this category.
- Smart speed recognition adjusts gameplay to match the user’s speed
- Supports the latest virtual reality gaming titles as well as the legacy PC based VR games
- Decoupled head and body motion sensing allows players to look in one direction while moving in another
- Steep learning curve as the user adjusts to unnatural gait required for motion tracking
- Though still available for purchase on third party sites, no official info released since 2016
- Lower user weight limit than competitors, Vue tops out at 286 pounds, while KAT Walk Mini’s maximum weight is 308 pounds
Omni Treadmill Review Conclusion
The pool of contenders in the fully immersive virtual reality realm is very small. When narrowed even further to the omnidirectional treadmill producers only, there are only one or two with a viable product available for purchase today. Virtuix Omni is one such product however their recent decision to restrict all sales of the Omni to commercial outlets only hampers our rating for this Omni Treadmill review. If Virtuix were still selling the Omni to home users, there would be no question of their superiority in this arena. The Omni was the top scorer in most categories and we rated the platform 4 stars for overall quality. With the Omni off the market for home consumers and the Infinadeck, which also scored a solid 4 stars, not yet on the market, we turn instead to the KAT Walk Mini or the Vue VR which were nearly identical in ratings. The KAT scored a slight edge in warranty and support and the Vue pulled ahead with its uber-low price point. The two available platforms tie, with both earning a 3-star rating overall from us.