The Omni, an omni-directional treadmill created specifically for VR, just took a big step towards its commercial release as it announced a $2.7 million funding round this morning. According to the release, this round is “designed to support operations, fund working capital and accelerate research and development.” In addition to the funding round Virtuix announced that the “final Omni” will be revealed at this year’s CES, January in Las Vegas.
For virtual reality enthusiasts, including the 3,249 Kickstarter backers, this is huge news. The ability to walk and run in a virtual environment is a game changer when it comes to creating what Oculus CEO, Brendan Iribe has been buzzing about, “presence.” Said Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Virtuix, “[Our] mission is to take virtual reality beyond the chair.”
Virtuix also announced the hires of Kai Huang, co-founder of Red Octane (developer of “Guitar Hero”), and former Activision CEO Mike Griffith, who both will play instrumental roles in further developing and scaling the company. Said Huang of the company, “The Omni plays a crucial role in expanding VR beyond a seated experience to an active, immersive one.”
The addition of an “active” experience promises a number of new and exciting applications for virtual reality, including virtual fitness. Imagine being able to play Call of Duty, and break a sweat while doing so. According to the CDC, in 2012, over one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. It is clear that we need a new way to encourage children to exercise more often, and virtual reality fitness applications could go a long way towards making that happen.
This latest investment round adds to the now $7 million total the company has raised from investors (including Kickstarter). So far Virtuix has pre-sold more than 3,500 Omni’s, which look to go into “commercial production in Q1 of next year.” You can pre-order your own for $499 from the Virtuix Website: www.virtuix.com