Kat Walk Mini Promises A Compact, Affordable VR Treadmill For In-game Movement

by VentureBeat • April 8th, 2018

If the idea of using a controller to run in VR strikes you as old-fashioned, Kat VR’s upcoming Kat Walk Mini is going to excite you. The company has just released a new video detailing its compact omni-directional virtual treadmill, which looks like it’s straight out of Ready Player One, and promises compatibility with every major VR platform currently available.

Kat Walk Mini combines a 4.9-foot-wide square black platform with a 5.2-foot-tall rotating back support, using the support and foot sensors to track a player’s locomotion and rotation. Supporting one person up to 6.5 feet tall and weighing as much as 286 pounds, a shock-absorbing trampoline-like surface lets players comfortably walk, sprint, run, crouch, and lean back during games.

Notably, Kat Walk Mini radically reduces the weight and footprint of the company’s original Kat Walk model, which debuted on Kickstarter in 2015 and fulfilled backers throughout 2016 and 2017. The Mini unit weighs 187 pounds, less than half the 421-pound original model, and is more than four feet shorter, as it doesn’t use a basketball hoop-style back support system. It’s closer in design — but not in execution — to the Virtuix Omni Treadmill.

Despite its smaller size, Kat Walk Mini benefits from technology improvements made throughout development of earlier models. It apparently uses a contactless sensor with “accurate foot location tracking” and a “much lower delay” than the original Kat Walk accessory. Additionally, the foot sensors are powered directly by the machine rather than separate, so they don’t require recharging or pairing.

Compatibility generally sounds impressive, as well. Kat VR says that Kat Walk Mini will work with everything from the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to the PlayStation VR and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Supporting the platform is claimed to be simple — an open SDK will be offered to let developers integrate support, and games supporting free locomotion apparently work already. That includes Doom VFR, Skyrim VR, Resident Evil 7, and other titles.

The biggest open questions are pricing and availability. Having already shipped larger, heavier versions of Kat Walk, Kat VR recently took to Reddit to answer questions ahead of a planned Kickstarter round for Mini. Pricing is promised to be “affordable” for “the average consumer,” which Redditors believe will fall under the original model’s $600 price for most Kickstarter buyers. KatVR previously ran a little behind early projections on shipments of the first model, but did in fact deliver products — something that shouldn’t be taken for granted with any Kickstarter project. The company advises potential backers to watch the product’s official page for more details.

This post by Jeremy Horwitz originally appeared on VentureBeat.

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  • Nosfar

    As a owner of the virtiux omni this design seems to fix all the major issues i have with it. Im going to kivkstart it .

  • Brian Brown

    I wonder how this would work with PSVR? Without 360 degree tracking, you would be bound to turn too far and lose tracking.

    • Daniel Caracas

      I don’t understand why people keep insisting that PSVR doesn’t have 360 degree tracking. I the move controllers lose tracking but not the headset. It has lights on the back of the headset too.

      • Brian Brown

        There is nothing worse than having your controllers lose tracking during gameplay. My son has PSVR, and I’ve had a few issues with tracking, needing to dim the lights to get a smoother experience on occasion. The Move controllers and the PS Camera are not very good IMHO, and were not made with VR in mind. That being said, for what it’s limitations are, it’s a solid VR experience, especially considering the price of entry.

        But with only one tracking camera, and controllers that can actually block the other out of tracking, it’s not technically ‘true’ 360 tracking.

      • polysix

        360 means the room can see you all around, not that ONE cam can see your head for 360 degrees. Losing controls = game over, its not real 360 if controls aren’t tracked.

        Try a rift or vive (I’ve had rift vive and psvr – rift is by far the best overall) then understand why PSVR is extremely limited in movement and tracking.

  • polysix

    can you crouch, roll and turn on your knees? probably not all 3.. so still very limited. Still, it looks better than the others.

    • polysix

      also, we already have a lot of people who find even putting a HMD on is cumbersome and ‘fun removing’, we need less clutter, less cables, less hardware… I know we have no answer yet but I think stuff like this is never going to answer the question of needing ‘effortless’ and empowering VR, that feels as natural as reality but in an unreal world. The more stuff you have touching/tethering you (esp that giant belt around your waist) the more you’re away it’s not real… I got to VR to feel more free than reality, not more trapped.

  • PJ

    Am I the only person that thinks these treadmills are stupid? It’s bad enough that I have to set up sensors in my livingroom thus creating an eyesore, imagine having one of these too?!

    Im happy with sticks and trackpads thank you very much

    • Myrothas McMillan

      low and cash eh?

      • PJ

        I’m going to assume you mean ‘low on cash’ because your comment does not make sense.

        If so, no I’m not, but my wife may not to kindly to a large stupid looking treadmill in our livingroom..

        • Myrothas McMillan

          yeah thats what i meant lol, stupid phone 🙂
          thankfully i have a mencave and can put there whatever i want.
          if its not beyond 600€ ill definately get it… but a grand is a grand.

    • Blinko23

      You might be the only one. I think treadmills are a great idea and can’t wait to get one. My greatest pet peeve right now with VR is the lack of ‘infinite walking.’ Treadmills solve that problem for me. Granted, current treadmill technology leaves a lot to be desired. But as long as it feels natural enough (maybe like skating instead of walking) I will be happy enough. Can’t wait!

  • CHRIS

    I kind of do want this. Infinite walking in skyrim. I already have 3 grand saved up for motion chair and graphics card. Ill put the motion chair on hold for now.

  • Da Mo (JFlash)

    on there site it’s $1,499 for early backers 🙁

  • Frogacuda

    The running in this video looks really awkward. I like the concept of these things, but they don’t at all seem to allow you to move naturally.