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Full-body virtual reality is here, but try not to puke

January 16, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Ellis Hamburger / The Verge

When a Combine Soldier throws a grenade at you, your instinct is to run. In the Virtuix Omni, you can.

At CES 2014, Virtuix showed off the latest version of its virtual reality rig, which features 40 capacitive sensors in its base to track your every step and move your character inside a game. Until now, the Omni tracked your legs with a Microsoft Kinect. Today's Omni is more accurate and offers analog motion -- which means that the faster you walk, the faster your character moves, with an unlimited number of possible speeds. I tested out the company's latest setup with Oculus Rift's 3D head-tracking goggles and Half Life 2.

After lacing up Virtuix's custom sneakers, which have slippery plastic pads on the bottom, I hopped inside the Omni's waist-high ring and strapped on a harness. It fits just like a climbing harness and is attached to the support ring surrounding you. Once I was securely strapped in, I was free to put my weight on the harness and swing my legs about. You're still very much grounded inside the Omni, but you're supported enough that you can walk on its slick curved base without the fear of falling. It takes a few minutes to learn how to walk in the Omni, since you have to lean forward trustingly with each step.

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