Virtuix’s Omni presents a novel way of moving about in VR, though the sheer size and cost of the device has long cast doubt on its commercial viability. It appears those doubts may have caught up with the company.
An Omni Kickstarter backer provided UploadVR with a message sent out to supporters of the company’s three year old crowdfunding campaign from outside of the US. In it, Virtuix announces that it is no longer planning to ship the Omni internationally, and those that pre-ordered it outside of the US will be refunded with an interest amount of 3% per year, compounded monthly.
Here’s one of the public comments from the startup as posted on Kickstarter:
We currently do not know if, when, or how the Omni will ever be available to consumers internationally. We have to admit that the current version of the Omni no longer looks like a typical consumer product but more like a robust commercial device. Our long-term vision is still to have a VR setup with the Omni in every household. That is our mission. But it’ll take us some more time, and a next-generation Omni, to get there…
Our company’s vision is to bring locomotion to VR, as we believe locomotion is crucial for VR to succeed. We regret that we need to take this step, but we see it as necessary for our company to survive and succeed in the long run. Our vision is intact, but it’ll take us longer to get there than what we envisioned. We understand our backers are angry and frustrated. This is not a good situation for us, and we wish it were different…
The team stated that the Omni had become a much more complex and expensive machine since it had raised over $1 million on Kickstarter, and the company was struggling with international shipping regulations as a result. “The Omni’s production cost grew to more than three times our initial estimate,” the message reads, further stating that the 48″ x 43″ box required to ship the device along with the additional accessories also complicated matters.
Omni consists of a large dish that users stand in with a pair of special shoes and a harness. Players then put on a VR headset and run on the spot, with their movements being simulated within an experience. On Kickstarter, assembled units started at $349, with projected shipping costs as low as $40 in countries like China and as high as $700 in Egypt, though many territories had projected costs around $100 – $250. Virtuix now calls its dream of shipping the kit outside the US “naive and unfeasible.”
Plans for US shipping appear to still be on track.