The Cyberith Virtualizer Brings Us Closer Than Ever To Walking Through A Video Game
When you play a video game, you're (presumably) doing so for one of two reasons: either you simply want a bit of entertainment to pass the time, or you're looking to immerse yourself in an entirely different world. In the latter case, you want the experience to be as involved as possible. Anything which detracts from it - anything which reminds you that you aren't actually inside the game - is pretty much unacceptable.
With that in mind, it's really no surprise that we've made such great strides with virtual reality over the past few years. We've seen a whole host of awesome inventions, all designed to make our gaming experience more immersive than ever before. The Virtualizer is the latest of those inventions.
On the surface, it's not all that much different from the Virtuix Omni. Both are virtual reality platforms, designed to allow players to control their games with their bodies rather than a set of joysticks or a mouse/keyboard. They've also got a very similar design: a user hooks themselves into a central harness suspended over the platform, which helps them to avoid any embarrassing wipeouts while they're in game.
The similarities end at the base design.
Whereas the Virtuix Omni requires special anti-friction shoes to use, The Virtualizer is designed so that you can use it wearing nothing but your socks. On top of that, there's no sloped sides to get used to - all you need to do is slide your feet along the platform as you walk, and you're good to go. That process is helped along by the fact that The Virtualizer's flat base-plate is built out of a low-friction material (but not so low that you'll feel as though you're sliding on ice). What this means is that walking and running feel as natural as possible, and comes very, very close to mimicking the sort of natural motion you'd get, say, running on a treadmill.
The central ring of The Virtualizer allows you to move, jump, rotate, kneel, and even sit down if the need arises. A special balance system built into the harness will compensate for the ring's weight so it doesn't weigh down the user at all. Of course, this is all pretty basic stuff, isn't it?
What makes The Virtualizer really exciting is that it's the first omni-directional treadmill to incorporate haptic feedback. What that means is that, through the use of "special transducers" built into the platform, you'll actually be able to feel your environment. Did a grenade explode behind you? The platform will rumble in such a way that you're alerted to its presence. Did you jump off a cliff? You'll 'feel' an impact when your character lands.
Much like the ARAIG gaming vest, this technology is completely plug-and-play. It'll work with pretty much any game. Not only that, this'll also allow it to be compatible with any PC-friendly virtual reality headset - including the Oculus Rift.
Now, all these features come with a rather hefty price tag. Although The Virtualizer is available for $999 through Kickstarter, it'll reportedly cost significantly more when it releases. Best start saving now if this is something you want to purchase for yourself - it won't be cheap.