Skyrim Virtual Reality Treadmill

Through a combination of Kinect, controller, goggles, and a treadmill, a device called the Omni is crafting a level of immersion not seen since Star Trek holodecks.
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The gaming industry has come up with some really weird controllers, from the original Game Cube controller (best description ever: A robot octopus threw up on a boomerang) to the monster mech controller that came with Steel Battalion, to the Wii’s motion controllers and 360 Kinect.  The ability to control a game smoothly has always been in a strange tug of war with the ability to immerse someone in a natural experience.  Being able to genuinely get into the game, rather than the mechanics of the game, is one of the ultimate successes of any given control scheme.

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The Omni, in the video above, may very well be the closest we have ever come to a naturally immersive controller.  Take the headset from a virtual boy, add colors, then strap yourself into a baby walker on a treadmill and get exploring.

Using a form of Kinect-style technology to handle looking around makes for something that likely needs to be experienced to fully grasp the effect of.  The ability to turn your head to look a direction and then actually physically walk there is approaching very rapidly the realms of science fiction in very practical ways.

This would actively encourage people who have problems ‘getting into’ games to play, opening up the digital realms we all enjoy to a huge number of people who otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to appreciate them the same way we do.  It streamlines the initial learning period for any given game by making the movement and viewing as intuitive as actually moving and looking around.  No more absurd tutorial messages telling us to push the left stick to walk, at least.

The company behind Omni is planning to start a Kickstarter for the hardware in the near future.  Other uses they list out for the in-progress device include non-gaming applications such as virtual tourism, video meetings, virtual museums, physical therapy, fitness training, and probably many other ideas that the Matrix would be envious of.

Plus, all the practical applications aside, I think we can all agree on one other thing.  This thing is really, really cool.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.