It is funny that our WalkOVR journey was started because of a laser tag invitation. In 2007, without any reason that I am aware, laser tag became so famous and was frequently played by people around me at that time. A Saturday morning, one of my friends in college called me and asked if I am up to a laser tag gaming. At the moment he asked me that question, I thought how it would be great to play Counter-Strike like top PC games, directly by being in that game… directly, by playing them with our own body, as we do in laser tag.
Unfortunately, VR had no intention to start its second wave that time, technology-wise even simple sensor systems were at high costs. So, after a while: my 2007 version decided it is a really hard task to create a motion system that takes us into any game and lets us use our own body.
Years after, when I first saw Oculus on its Kickstarter; I got so excited. I thought it is the beginning of a new era. It was the revolutionary step for the human-computer interaction, especially for the gamers. In 2014, I was one of a few lucky people who managed to get Oculus DK2, I set it up to test and then it happened; I got shocked with the reality I faced: We were so bound to a limited play area, sitting at that time, to experience VR, almost only by looking around us.
Intersection with VRFirst
That was the moment I started re-thinking how we can design a great product for the consumer, to let them use their own body to move in their Virtual Reality experience. It led me to apply to VRFirst in Turkey, the world’s first VRFirst initiative that helps creators realized their dreams. I was en route to create the world’s most compact and lightweight omnidirectional treadmill (ODT) and then the most flexible and affordable wearables specifically designed to enhance your VR experience.
We applied to VRFirst incubation and has been accepted after presenting how we would like to create WalkOVR and how we’d like to take advantage of VRFirst’s awesome technologies provided to its startups for free.
Of course, I was not the first person who came up with the idea of walking in VR. Therefore, I started searching for existing solutions in the market. I already knew some of them either from their past Kickstarter campaigns or from various resources on the web. But all of them had similar designs, they were heavy, bulky and so big omnidirectional treadmills. However, for the consumer, it should be lightweight, sleek and small enough like an IKEA coffee table.
Then we started designing our omnidirectional treadmill as well as our firmware and software. We, of course, took benefit of the exclusive headsets and the high-end gaming rigs of VRFirst lab. First ODT designs were like those ones already in the market, but then thanks to fellow gamers who gave feedback, in December 2018, we had what you see below. It is actually the world’s most lightweight and compact omnidirectional treadmill for VR. It is around 30 kgs only which is less than one-third of Virtuix Omni.
This version of WalkOVR was the latest version of, what we call WalkOVR Business edition. It has many accessories that you can use with and this system brings the immersive experience you watched in Ready Player One movie.
But wait, where is the electronics part of this, where the magic really happens? It is one of the best parts about WalkOVR. While we were literally constructing WalkOVR experience, we designed electronics and mechanics as separate products. This brought the advantage to test them separately. We realized its effectiveness when we had to test it without the mechanical structure for the first time.
New York & San Francisco events
In 2018, we decided to organize two events, one in San Francisco and the other is in New York. It was an awesome time for all of us because we decided to test the WalkOVR as a wearable device only, for the first time.
The result? The result was outstanding. People fell in love with WalkOVR; even with its simplified version. We not only validated the need but also the result of WalkOVR usage in Virtual Reality. We asked people to score their dizziness and VR sickness with and without WalkOVR. More than a hundred people scored their dizziness 2.9 over 10 with WalkOVR; however, it was 7 over 10 without WalkOVR. That was incredible.
Ok but, what is WalkOVR after all?
Yea, right… WalkOVR consists of 1 mainboard, 4 tiny tracker nodes, strap bands, patch cables to connect one node to another. These trackers have their own processor units as well as sensor systems so every single node is capable of tracking user’s movements. While getting your movements they get the positional data and send them to the mainboard.
Main board has a more powerful processor unit, as well as its own built-in sensory systems. It executes additional calculations over the data flowing from the nodes and combine all positional data and recreates the image of your lower body. Then it determines the movement you do in physical life and sends the information to your connected PC, to our OVR Portal software.
OVR Portal is the client side of our motion system. It receives the movement data and converts it to the digital movement based on your game’s profile. It is still under development and is planned to automatically configure the driver integration based on the headset you use. Besides, it detects your favorite VR games installed on your system and downloads the profiles automatically. Furthermore, OVR Portal will let you input your body parameters and sensitivity levels as well; so, you will find the best experience according to your body and needs.
and today, it is finally time. With the compatibility of not only with almost all locomotion supported SteamVR games but also with almost all headsets in the market; we are ready to launch globally.
We are very emotional about this.
On Monday, May 13th, if everything goes fine, we are going live on Kickstarter. You will be able to pre-order your WalkOVR on Kickstarter.com.
Hopefully, we will succeed fast and will use the pre-order funds to mass produce WalkOVR. Depending on how early our backers pledge their WalkOVR, they will receive their WalkOVR sooner than others.
So why should you pre-order and not just wait to buy later?
First, helping us to make our dream come true. By pre-ordering and supporting our campaign, we finally meet WalkOVR with hundreds maybe thousands of gamers.
Second, savings for you. You’ll get your gaming suit at a much lower price than its retail price.
We seriously believe VR needs more and one of the most important VR interaction is moving around freely, physically and naturally. WalkOVR was developed with a dream of providing a better VR interaction and enhanced immersive experience to gamers.
We believe it is time to change the way you play.