2016 is shaping up to be the year of in-home virtual reality. Pre-orders are already available for the Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR and HTC/Valve’s Vive are hot on its heels. Which is fine, because going outside is overrated, right?
But virtual reality is about more than just the visual display. It’s about immersion, about transporting oneself into another world as completely as possible. This is where Infinadeck‘s “true omnidirectional treadmill designed for consumer use” comes in.
As you’ve already guessed, it’s a treadmill that can move in any direction (in two dimensions, you can’t walk up walls… yet), allowing users to endlessly move around in a VR world. It would be ideal for strolling through Fallout 4‘s post-apocalyptic New England.
The prototype was created by George Burger, who was watching his son play Call of Duty a few years ago and thought it would be for his offspring to move rather than sit on a couch as he braved his way through virtual battle. The latest iteration of the omnidirectional treadmill, the Infinadeck Mark II, was showcased at CES 2016, and if Burger has his way, it will be the go-to option for conjunctional use with VR headsets.
Unlike other VR components, the Infinadeck is a serious piece of hardware, weighing in at a hefty 500 pounds (half the original prototype’s weight) with a base that’s 35 square feet. It uses a “looping belt powered by two motors which could propel a user standing atop it in the opposite direction they intended to walk.” No matter which way you turn, the belt below you will move in the opposite direction allowing for seamless movement. According to the Infinadeck website, maximum speed for the treadmill is 6mph.
Although Burger’s Infinadeck isn’t the first omnidirectional treadmill on the market, (the Virtuix Omni and Cyberith also aim for the same type of endless VR walking experience), the Infinadeck sets itself apart because it uses motorized components, rather than passive, low-friction surfaces to facilitate movement. According to some users, this makes for a much more realistic walking experience. And when it comes to virtual reality, “realistic” is the name of the game.
Without a release date or a price tag, we’ll have to wait to see if Infinadeck is just talking the talk, or if it can really make you walk the walk.
What do you think about Infinadeck’s Mark II treadmill? Is this another step toward Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One? Let us know in the comments section below!