One of the most talked about VR treadmills in the game receives an upgrade less than a week away from launch.
As part of the ongoing crusade to pioneer a functional system for movement while in VR, many companies brave enough to take on this noble task have found potential in a technology referred to as an ‘omnidirectional treadmill.’ These devices feature specialized platforms capable of keeping a user positioned at the same location while moving. However, whereas a standard treadmill is designed to move only forward and backward, these new renditions allow for motion in all directions.
Of course you can’t talk about omnidirectional treadmills without mentioning the Infinadeck VR treadmill. A unicorn among other omnidirectional solutions, the Infinadeck is one of the only ‘active’ treadmills in circulation, utilizing a system of moving parts as opposed to other ‘passive’ options which depend on low friction surfaces.
First introduced back in 2016, the unique device has undergone several iterations and upgrades in its quest for perfect immersion, growing smaller and sleeker in the process.
However, like any prototype device looking to break new ground, there are of course some hiccups. One of the most glaring for the device is tracking. Until now, the active treadmill relied on a harness system to keep the player secured in the center of the platform, resulting in a restrictive and often cumbersome experience. Now the team behind the ambitious venture is touting a new and improved method of user tracking that replaces the bulky body harness with a convenient pair of Vive Trackers.
Showcased above in a recent video released by the company, the new system utilizes two Vive Tracker pucks strapped to each foot of the user. The treadmill then tracks and responds to the position of the feet, repositioning itself to keep the user on track. This is a massive upgrade from the body harness technique which relied on brute physical force to keep the user in position, effectively working against the machine. This new method instead works with the treadmill, communicating and collaborating between devices.
Based on the video, it appears as though running and jumping are still off the table, however even the ability to simply walk in infinite directions could have massive implications on current and future VR experiences. Casual walks in a calm, serene VR experience, guided tours through virtual museums, simple social experiences, the list of potential use-case scenarios points at a greater solution for VR movement. And with upcoming competition such as the recently announced Axon VR Exosuit on the way, it’ll need to be.
Infinadeck will be hosting an official launch party event March 28th at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Studio in Mountain View, California from 6pm-10pm PST. More information on price and availability are expected then.