Weirdness: The Cyberith Virtualizer Combines Wii Remote Controls, Oculus Rift and a Treadmill
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Immersive, or strange?
Virtual Reality is a hot topic at the moment, with Oculus Rift and Sony's Morpheus at the forefront of bringing the concept forward. The mainstream appeal of these devices is yet to be seen, though both have a lot of investment behind them.
There are various gadgets and devices trying to tap into the craze, including some treadmill setups that attempt to immerse you in the experience by allowing you to walk and run in real life to simulate game movement — we saw one of these in action last summer, so it's not particularly new. The Cyberith Virtualizer is the latest of these treadmill gadgets, aiming to provide a superior experience to its contemporaries; one way it does this is through utilising a Wii Remote setup for pointer control — in theory you should feel like you're pointing the gun in an FPS, for example.
Speaking to Red Bull, company founder Tuncay Cakmak said the following.
I’d say what sets us apart is our striving for maximum immersion. From the first prototype onward I always felt that a virtual reality treadmill would only make sense if it allowed you to mimic as many different movements as possible, at least if it wants to be more than just a new form of controller. That’s why even the first prototype possessed a moveable ring construction, to allow for jumping, ducking and sitting, so that driving a vehicle in-game would feel as natural as possible. Due to its integrated sensors, we’re also able to pick up the user’s exact crouching and jumping height. It’s important to understand that these features aren’t just nice-to-haves, they are vital in terms of immersion. Each and every time your in-game movements aren’t in accordance with your real-world body movements, the illusion of you being present in the virtual world is broken and that presence is what we at Cyberith are aiming for with the Virtualizer. Combined with the fact that you don’t need any extra equipment like shoes to operate the Virtualizer and as a result, the reduced level of noise, I’d say the Virtualizer is a pretty unique product.
...What inspired me the most was an experience I had with a Nintendo Wii Remote. My brother had one at his place and when hanging out, we often played with it, and I completely loved it. But since I’m more of a PC gamer I always wondered what it would be like to play games like Quake 3 with a Wiimote. So I borrowed one of his and managed to get it working with my computer and most importantly, with Quake. And once I was able to control the crosshair with it, I was just blown away by the experience. It was way more immersive than anything else I played before and I wanted more of that feeling. So I thought about ways to increase immersion and that’s when I came up with the Virtualizer.
A Kickstarter campaign for the device will launch this week, and you should hit up the source link to see a video of various games being played with an Oculus Rift and Wii Remote + Nunchuk (in the Zapper).
Like the VR technology it utilises, it's hard to project whether this will achieve mainstream success. Nevertheless, it'd sure be a fun talking point at a party.