Virtuex Omni – Shut Up and Take my Money!

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to really be in a video game? Virtuix has teamed up with the folks over at Oculus Rift to develop the Omni. The Omni is essentially a gaming platform that allows the user to move around freely whilst exploring a 3D environment and when combined with the Oculus rift VR head set it creates a very immersive experience. Not quite a Star Trek holodeck, but the next best thing!

Currently the Omni is fundraising on Kickstarter and has raised 650 K against a 150 K target with 45 days of fundraising left. The idea that you can actually physically move around in a game, walking, running, jumping, crouching and turning as necessary has obviously caught gamers’ imaginations. It also has great potential as a fitness platform allowing users to run through a variety of beautiful environments without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.

The technology consists of a circular concave base with carefully designed grooves that fit studs on the shoes that come with the Omni. These enable the users feet to slip over the surface of the Omni but still have good grip in the grooves enabling stability. A support belt with flanges that extend down to the base of the Omni provides further safety.

The technology works with Xbox Kinect and will support accelerometer and magnetometer solutions. Given that one of the features of XBox One will be a much more sophisticated version of Kinetic, Omni will probably be able to support an even wider range of actions at launch than the current prototypes. Currently the projected retail price will be somewhere between $499 and $599.

Google Glass – Shut Up and Take my Money?

Google Glass - Shut Up and Take my Money?

I’ve been watching the hype around Google’s new augmented reality product with great interest. Whatever your opinion as to whether you’d be seen dead in public wearing one, even the most hardened technology cynic would have to agree that they’ve captured the public interest with Glass.

I think that deep down anyone with the least amount of “techno-joy” as Eddie Izzard would put it, will love the idea of Glass. There’s something compellingly sy-fy’esque about wearing a device that feeds information directly across your field of vision.

As time progresses the hardware will become smaller and more proficient and the control system easier to use. There is no doubt that Glass fits the mold of a disruptive technology very well. However, it’s adoption I think will depend largely on three factors:

1. Will people feel socially awkward wearing Glass – The current headset isn’t really a fashion statement regardless of how hard Google are trying to persuade us that it is with futuristic depictions of models wearing it. Miniaturization and designer renditions of Glass will help with this in the future.

2. The apps – we love the idea of information relevant to us being laid across our field of vision (Iron Man anyone?) but that information has to be both timely and relevant.

3. The privacy issues – anyone wearing glass can potentially take a video of photo of you without you noticing…not only is this an invasion of privacy potentially but there are copyright issues here. How do you know that someone visiting a cinema isn’t taping the film?

The issues around privacy actually go deeper than this. Imagine your Google Glass can scan someone’s face, recogise them and feed you information directly about them. The issues around surveillance and further erosion of personal freedoms abound.

All this being said I’ll be watching the Google Glass story with great interest as it launches and, yes, I will be getting my pair!