A virtual reality game controller which tracks player's foot and body movements has passed its Kickstarter target and will now ship in January, 2014.

Omni Virtual Reality Treadmill headset
The Omni being used to play Battlefield 3. (Credit: Virtuix)

The Omni, created by Texas-based developer Virtuix, uses special shoes mixed with motion sensors . Players stand on the Omni's curved surface and can walk and run on the spot to control their character's movement in game. The shoes are fitted with pins that slot into grooves on the Omni's based to prevent players from slipping.

The device also features a circular motion tracker which fits around the player's waist, so that as well as running, users can squat or jump on the spot to make their character crouch and jump in-game.

The Omni can also be combined with a traditional joypad so that running and moving is controlled with motion whereas other actions, such as opening doors or picking up objects, are performed using a standard controller.

It's been shown working with games such as Battlefield 3, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and Skyrim

The Omni was listed on Kickstarter on 4 June, with Virtuix setting a funding goal of $150,000 (£96,000). With the funding period not set to close until 22 July, the Omni has already surpassed its original target with $639,000 in crowd-sourced funds obtained already.

Virtual reality

In a promotional video for the Omni, Virtuix founder Jan Goetgeluk, who originally started the project using his own money, said the device would introduce the "next level" of virtual reality gaming:

"I've always been passionate about virtual reality. I didn't want to sit down with virtual reality glasses on and still push buttons on my keyboard. For a true experience, you need to be able to stand up and move around naturally in the virtual word.

"Right now, there's no solution that fits in your living room that's affordable or even available. That's why we developed the Omni, to take virtual reality to the next level."

At launch, Virtuix is aiming to price the Omni between $499 and $99. The device can also be folded up and stored similar to exercise equipment, making it suitable for home use.

Oculus Rift

It can be used as a standalone product, but has been designed to work in conjunction with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and other motion controllers such as the Xbox Kinect and Razer Hyrda.

As well as a gaming device, Goetgeluk believes the Omni could be used for exercise:

"We believe the Omni can help reduce the problem of obesity," he told the BBC. "The Omni makes exercise engaging, and gets gamers off the couch and onto their feet. Imagine going for a jog in Skyrim."

Other proposed applications for the Omni include military training simulations and structural analysis, allowing architectures to tour 3D building plans in real time.

However, Brian Blau, a consultant for research firm Gartner, said the Omni would have only have niche appeal:

"The Omni will be a fun experience, but because it's a niche product and needs to be paired with a head-mounted display and games made specifically for the device to deliver the best experience, it will have a limited market.

"Alternative entertainment interfaces, such as a Kinect paired with a normal display or even Microsoft's Illumiroom project will attract more developers. While not an exact replacement for the immersive experience that Omni will bring," Blau continued "they will be accessible and available to a much broader audience."