When it comes to a new VR experience, make way for the Virtualizer Elite 2, described as “The Motion Platform Motion Platform”, this is a 2nd-gen, Virtual Reality treadmill that offers gamers a new VR experience. This is the sequel to Cyberith’s first virtualizer that created a lot of hype some years ago. This type of platform offers locomotion in VR. In other words, it is a sort of Virtual Reality treadmill.
With the Virtualizer Elite 2, you can experience gaming while moving. It allows you to walk around in your game virtually, while you’re physically walking around on the platform. You can change direction, adapt your speed and rotate.
Our adventure to VR Days at the end of 2019 allowed us to check out some of the latest advancements in trending VR technologies. We also had the opportunity to experience the Virtualizer ELITE 2 - the most advanced VR locomotion device on the market. We interviewed Tuncay Cakmak, the CTO and founder of Cyberith to find out more about the Virtualizer ELITE 2 treadmill.
Cyberith as a company began as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014. It now employs seven people and has its headquarters in Wein in Austria. There was some anger from the public as the Virtualizer ended up being a B2B product (business-to-business product) rather than the promised consumer market product.
The CEO of Cyberith, Holger Hager, said they had initially planned to bring the platform to the mass market to appeal to Virtual Reality enthusiasts and vr games, but in reality they weren’t able to do this and instead had to focus on professional and B2B markets because making a product for consumers means a rate of production in the thousands, which just wasn’t economically viable. They assured us that this project is still ongoing, emphasising the fact that it is just extremely delayed. According to Hager, they fully intend to bring the Virtualizer to their backers as soon as they can. Kickstarter campaigns are basically crowdfunding platforms so it is easy to see why backers might be angry if the product hasn’t been made for its original promised audience.
The Virtualizer Elite 2 means that walking is much more effortless and natural. The new motion platform has two electric motors powering it. This means the user is supported in their walking and walking is much easier for everyone.
Cyberith has really listened to the feedback it received on its first Virtualizer. Users found the Virtualizer initially challenging to learn to walk on correctly. Some people needed a significant amount of training to get the hang of it. The first-generation walking experience was much more challenging than walking on a typical street. Cyberith has addressed this with their 2nd generation Virtualizer with a goal of trying to make walking on the Virtualizer more like walking in the real world, with the same amount of physical effort.
When the user is walking in a forwards motion, the platform is raised in front, which means that walking is more effortless and the platform is easier to master. Now the angle is better, the user doesn’t have to push their hips forwards to initiate walking. The result is an experience that is much more intuitive and simpler to use.
One extra great thing is that you can adjust the inclination angle according to your preferences. This means the experience is adjustable for all and can be adjusted for a user’s size, weight, height, and age, for example.
Like all VR treadmills, the Virtualizer Elite 2 is a B2B product. The Omni, however, has just been made accessible for consumers, so hopefully, the Virtualizer Elite 2 will try and access some of that market. There is a limited consumer market currently due to the cost, lack of games and the physical size of these platforms.
Cyberith sell a lot of their platforms to the Research and Development sector - to places like research institutions and universities. They also provide them to places that use simulation training, such as, emergency services and the armed forces. Additionally, they supply them to Virtual Reality arcades and entertainment centres.
Whether or not the product will become available to consumers remains to be seen. The company believes that VR headsets need to be commonplace and in most homes in order for platforms like the Virtualizer Elite 2 to take off in the consumer market.
It is the first Virtual Reality treadmill in the world to implement a motion platform that makes walking easy in a virtual environment. The walking experience can be adjusted to an individual’s preference through the use of a button.
There are 6 optical motion sensors in the baseplate of the Virtualizer. These track the speed a person is walking and the direction they’re moving in. The Virtualizer Elite 2 has a frame rate of 1000 Hz, which is exceptional. This guarantees precise and fast tracking.
As well as the motion sensors, the Virtualizer Elite 2’s ring has a rotation sensor that tracks the user’s orientation. This, when combined with the headset orientation, means there is decoupled viewing.
The Virtualizer also has an optical height sensor on one of its pillars. This tracks the user’s hip height and is used to detect vertical movements and to scale your avatar.
Into your haptic feedback? The Virtualizer’s baseplate has a vibration unit installed. This means that the user feels more immersed in their game or application.
The harness has been updated as of 2020. It is comfortable, ergonomic, and easy to use. What’s more, it is adjustable to the wearer. This is important as it means it fits all body types and can be used with different players.
As far as the shoes go, the Virtualizer Elite 2 comes with flexible overshoes that are worn on top of your regular shoes. This is where the Virtualizer differs from the Omni, which comes with sized shoes. The Virtualizer Overshoes come in two sizes – small and large and they can be worn over boots, sneakers and business shoes alike.
Everyone can benefit from the new system that the Virtualizer Elite 2 uses. The platform supports everyone’s gait, regardless of their age, weight or height. The system has now been patented too, so walking in the VR world will soon be smoother and easier than ever before.
As well as being smoother, walking with the Virtualizer Elite 2 is much less demanding physically than its predecessor and means that the player can sustain longer virtual walks. He or she can also adjust the settings to decrease the physical effort needed in increments.
One of the great things about the movements on the Virtualizer Elite 2 is that the ring moves vertically with ease, allowing the player to duck down or crouch. When in Virtual Reality game play, this means the player can reach objects and pick them up from the ground.
You also don’t need to worry about becoming tangled. The system comes with a cable guiding system that guides the wires coming from the Head Mounted Display, so you don’t need to worry about becoming wrapped up in cables and tying yourself in knots!
The Virtualizer comes with an automatic safety function that locks the ring automatically in place. This means the user's safety is never compromised. You can easily deactivate this system if you need to, in order to have greater freedom of movement.
The Virtualizer Elite 2 is designed for heavy usage. Its mechanical construction is very strong, and the baseplate has extra strength, making it durable for long term heavy use.
The improvements of the Virtualizer Elite 2 from its predecessor are important and make the experience much better and more easily immersive for the gamer. It is much easier to get to grips with how to use the platform, which means that young and old alike can use it with very little guidance and training. It also adjusts easily and quickly to different directions and responds well to crouching down. It is very quick to rotate too.
An obvious downside is its lack of availability for the average consumer. Unless something changes soon, you’re going to have to experience this at events or in arcade setups rather than in your own home. This is disappointing, since its Kickstarter campaign initially sold the Virtualizer as a product for the consumer market.
Another con is that this looks a bit less modern than similar setups like the Omni. That being said, we shouldn't judge a book by its cover!
The Virtualizer Elite 2 is an impressive piece of kit and such a VR platform certainly has gamers chomping at the bit, eager to see what’s next for the VR gaming world. It will be interesting to see how this product and company progresses with the game industry. Despite being a company initially supported by crowdfunding through a Kickstarter campaign, it is now entirely funded by revenues and has been for a number of years. More and more companies are getting wind of this type of technology, which is a positive for the VR gaming world. We just need to be a bit more patient and hope that it becomes available on the consumer market soon!
To find out more - visit the Cyberith website: cyberith.com/virtualizer-elite/
Have any comments? Have you tried the Virtualizer ELITE 2? We'd love to hear what you think if you have. Post them in the comments section below...
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