Launching a Kickstarter Campaign
A letter from the founder of WalkOVR
How everything started
It is funny that our WalkOVR journey started because of an invitation to laser tag. In 2007, for no reason I am aware of, laser tag became very famous and was frequently played by the people around me. One Saturday morning, one of my friends in college called me and asked if I was up for laser tag. In that exact moment, I thought how great it would be to play Counter-Strike and PC games while being directly in the game, by playing using your own body, as we do in laser tag.
Unfortunately, VR had no intentions to start its second wave at that time. Technology-wise simple sensor systems came with a big price tag. After doing a lot of research deep into the topic, the 2007 version of myself decided that the task of creating a motion system that took you directly into a game was too hard to accomplish.
Years after when I first saw Oculus’ Kickstarter campaign, I got excited. This meant the beginning of a new era and a revolutionary step for the human-computer interaction, especially for gamers. In 2014, I was one of the few lucky people who managed to get a hold of the Oculus DK2. I unboxed the set and got ready to test it — and got shocked. It was nothing like hoped for, as a player, I was strictly bound to a limited play area and could only play sitting down.
First milestone achieved: Accepted to VR First Lab at BAU
In that moment, I started to re-think the design of a great product for consumers. A product that allows us to use our own bodies to move in virtual reality. This led me to apply to VR First Istanbul, the world’s first VRFirst lab that helps creators realize their dreams. My mission: Create the world’s most compact and lightweight omnidirectional treadmill (ODT) and the most flexible and affordable wearables.
Me and my team applied to VRFirst incubation program and got accepted. We were and are extremly grateful for the opportunity to use the lab’s VR equipment for free, a huge milestone for our development process.
Of course I was not the first person to come 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 big omnidirectional treadmills. The consumer needed a lightweight, sleek and smaller solution than the ones already on the market.
WALKOVR — A Product We Are Proud of and People Love <3
After deciding on this, we started designing our omnidirectional treadmill as well as our firmware and software. All of this while having access to the exclusive headsets and the high-end gaming rigs at our VRFirst lab. First ODT designs were similar to the ones already in the market, but thanks to fellow gamers who gave feedback, in December 2018, we had a new solution.
It is the world’s most compact and lightweight omnidirectional treadmill designed to support VR experiences.
It weighs only 30 kgs, which is less than one-third of Virtuix Omni.
This version of WalkOVR is the latest one, what we call WalkOVR Business edition. It comes with many accessories and it grants the sort of immersive experience you watched in Ready Player One.
But wait, where are the electronics? Where does the magic really happen? That is one of the best parts about WalkOVR. While we were literally constructing WalkOVR experience, we designed electronics and mechanics as separate products. This came with the advantage of testing them separately. We realized its effectiveness when we had to test it without the mechanical structure for the first time.
Tested in New York & San Francisco
In 2018, we decided to organize two events, one in San Francisco and the other one 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 was outstanding. People fell in love with WalkOVR, even with its simplified version. We not only validated the need for the device but also the effectiveness of usage of WalkOVR for virtual reality. We asked people to score their dizziness and VR motion 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?
WalkOVR consists of 1 mainboard, 4 tiny tracker nodes, strap bands and 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.
The main node 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, combines 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 compatibility with almost all locomotion supported SteamVR games and 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 before everyone else.
So why should you pre-order and not just wait to buy later?
Firstly, you will be helping us to make our dream come true. By pre-ordering and supporting our campaign, you help us to finally match WalkOVR with hundreds maybe thousands of gamers.
Secondly, it means savings for you. You’ll get your gaming suit at a much lower price than its retail price.
We seriously believe VR needs more developments to realize its potential and one of the most important VR interactions is moving around freely, physically and naturally. WalkOVR was developed with the dream of providing a better VR interaction and enhance the immersive experience for gamers.
We believe it is time to change the way you play.
Founder | WalkOVR