Virtuix Opens a Virtual World at Your Feet, in Your living Room

Virtual reality has become a very real startup niche for Jan Goetgeluk.

Six months ago, the Belgian immigrant left his job at J.P. Morgan in Houston to focus full-time on Virtuix, a startup that makes the Omni, a 360-degree treadmill that creates virtual environments for gamers. In July, he launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $150,000 to supplement the $250,000 of his own savings he was putting into Virtuix.

The campaign ended up raising more than $1 million in 45 days, and he says it is still “selling Omnis every day.” Next week, he travels to China to present at Digital Taipei. From there, he will travel with his newly hired chief operating officer, a China market veteran, where they will scout manufacturing companies to fulfill orders for the Omni by early 2014.

“I’m really living my American dream,” Goetgeluk says.

The Omni is a 360-degree treadmill that allows users to use natural movement—walking, running, crouching, jumping—in a virtual reality environment. The motions are then patched on to those of an avatar in a virtual world. A harness at the waist keeps users tethered to the device for stability and safety but without restricting movement. (It can hold up to 285 pounds.)

“Moving naturally creates an unprecedented immersion that can’t be experienced sitting down,” Goetgeluk says.

The Omni is designed to be paired with the Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality gaming headset that is only currently available as a prototype kit intended for game developers, which is sold separately for $300.

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