Virtuix, developer of the “Omni” omni-directional VR treadmill, announced that it has raised $5 million in an equity crowdfunding campaign that ends this Thursday, August 10th. The Austin, Texas-based company says it has shipped over 4,000 commercial treadmills to date to major customers like Dave & Buster’s.
It’s been a long journey that started with a 2016 Kickstarter for the original home version that was a bit too early, and so the company pivoted to Location Based Entertainment, selling a networked four player VR enclosure, Omni Arena, which is now in over 70 entertainment venues nationwide. The company says they’ve built a player community of more than 300,000 registered users.
Like the omni-directional treadmill Wade Watts rigged up in Ready Player One, the Omni user wears a harness to stay upright and centered on a heavy duty plastic dish. Users wear overshoes with a low-friction sole. This way, the user can move, run, even jump inside the simulation as they would in real life, without needing a joystick or controller, further deepening the sense of immersion.
Virtuix’s latest model, the Omni One, is designed for consumer use and is more compact (4-foot diameter), easy to fold up or move around, and allows players unmatched freedom of movement, including crouching, kneeling, and jumping. “Now we’re returning to our original vision with Omni One, our first Omni system truly designed for the home. The big difference is that now the technology is ready. Thanks to standalone VR headsets, we can offer a complete system to the end customer with a streamlined user experience. The business model, connected hardware for the home with subscriptions, has matured. And the market is ready as well. We already have a waitlist of over 35,000 interested customers for Omni One,” said Virtuix founder and CEO, Jan Goetgeluk.
Omni One’s introductory price is $2,595 plus shipping. Pricing includes both the treadmill and a Pico VR headset (market value $699). Sounds pricey, but Bob Cooney, an author and analyst who follows Virtuix, says “America has a fitness obsession: there are 2.3 million pelotons. I know they’ve suffered post pandemic, but mostly because they overextended themselves thinking the COVID growth was sustainable. Virtuix seems to be taking a very conservative approach to their growth. It will come down to execution, customer acquisition costs, and content management. That last one is going to be key, because at this price point people’s expectations will be high.”
Virtuix started shipping Omni One beta units to its community of 8,000 equity investors, who were allowed to order the product ahead of the general public. Virtuix aims to ship over 1,000 units by year-end and to deliver all remaining investor units in Q1 2024. For the general public, preorders will open in late 2023 and deliveries will start in Q2 2024.
“We’re thrilled about the success of our investment campaign and our community’s excitement about Omni One,” said Goetgeluk. “Omni One is a groundbreaking product that sets us up for rapid revenue growth. Shipping just 3,000 units a month would bring in $100 million in annual revenues. We’re ready to scale.” Virtuix, a private company, has raised more than $35 million from individual and institutional investors.