Whether on a flat-screen or in virtual reality (VR), the idea of a metaverse is an all-encompassing digital world. And if films like The Lawnmower Man or Ready Player One have taught us anything you’ll need a big rig to strap into to truly appreciate the experience. So Chinese technology company StepVR has done just that, unveiling its Gates01 omnidirectional motion system.
Better known in China for its free-roam VR esports brand, Future Battle, StepVR has designed the Gates01 device to effectively be a gate into any VR metaverse. Covering an area of approximately 3m2 – so not exactly suitable for home VR – the Gates01 system comprises a harness, custom VR headset and an omnidirectional treadmill allowing players to walk and run as naturally as possible.
The company says that the Gate01 will: “restore the sense of vision, hearing, touch, smell, and vestibular balance in the virtual world,” so players will be able to experience haptic feedback as well as other “hyper-reality” functionality previously seen in venues like The VOID.
Actual tech specifics have yet to be detailed, such as the omnidirectional floor. From the demonstration video, it looks like users will have to wear specialised shoes (or shoe covers) to walk on the active floor. Whether players will be able to jump and crouch is another matter entirely – you might be able to hang by the looks of that frame.
Founded in 2013, StepVR’s Future Battle franchise comprises 140 location-based entertainment (LBE) venues across China, each one facilitating up to 10-player free roam sessions. The company states that 60 partner stores are still to be opened and that 22% of its partners have opened a second store.
StepVR expects to release Gates01 for entertainment venues in Korea, Japan, Singapore, the Middle East, North America, and Europe during October. A consumer version which will be lighter and 50% smaller is slated to arrive sometime in 2023. Currently, StepVR hasn’t revealed a price or supported content.
For an omnidirectional treadmill alternative without all the extra sensory effects, there’s always Kat Walk C2 which held a successful Kickstarter.
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