If you are in the VR field since some years, for sure you remember the hype when the Infinadeck was revealed. It was a very big treadmill, offering true natural locomotion: with it, you didn’t need weird movements like walking in place or slipping on a surface, but you could just walk like in real life to walk in VR. It seemed great from the videos, but its problems were its dimensions, because it was enormous, and its price (it was never revealed publicly, but rumors talked about $50-100K per unit).
The company kept sharing updates, but like 1-2 years ago, we stopped having news about it. Many of us thought it had busted. Since I was very interested in the technology, I have decided to contact Infinadeck, and talking with the CEO Kenneth Bossung, I discovered that the company is not only still in operation, but that has very exciting upcoming news. What am I talking about? Read the interview to discover it ?
Hello Kenneth, please introduce yourself to my readers!
Hello everyone, I’m Ken Bossung, the CEO of Infinadeck. I have been a business and sales executive for over 30 years and been a founding team and/or senior member of multiple venture-backed companies start-ups, many of which have been acquired. Prior to joining Infinadeck, I was Global Vice President of Baseform, where I led worldwide sales.
Can you tell us something about Infinadeck?
We have created a device that will change the world and the way people do many things now and in the future. Imagine a treadmill that allows you to walk or run in any direction immersed in a virtual world. Imagine yourself being able to go to… any park, any city, any trail, any museum, or play any game… anywhere in the world without leaving your own home. The Infinadeck has made that a reality.
This was the last video published on Youtube 2 years ago
Technically speaking, how does it work?
The Infinadeck currently uses very simple and lightweight trackers, one on each foot and one on a belt for your back. When the user moves, these trackers send a signal to our control system which moves the Infinadeck instantaneously. It is an actual treadmill. You can walk on the deck in your bare feet if you want. There are no special shoes required. The feeling is natural, just like normal walking. It is not like walking on a slide-mill, slipping around on a slick surface with un-natural walking. These kind of videos made us hyped on the technology.
And How have you managed to implement little treadmills inside a big treadmill?
The way the unit works is not with many little treadmills, it’s actually one very long belt that serpentines under the deck of the treadmill and comes up one belt over. This keeps consistency on the belt as the user’s foot will be on at least 2 parts and sometimes 3 at any given time.
I remember with my first startup we tried to cope with the problem of motion sickness by letting people walk in place to walk in VR, but it didn’t feel natural. Also, treadmills like Omni seem like slipping on ice. How is walking on Infinadeck?
While using The Infinadeck, there is limited or no effects of VR sickness. The natural movements from our omni-directional treadmill coupled with real-world references built into the Infinadeck system provide a stable comfortable experience. If you view the latest videos on our web-site, you will see it is natural and not slipping around on a surface. When the user stops walking, the device stops.
This is the new video showcasing the new Infinadeck technology.
It is natural walking and the distance you are actually walking on The Infinadeck is the same as in the VR experience, so they are in-sync, and your brain likes this.
Can I also run on it?
The user can jog on the treadmill now and by January 2021, the unit will have a speed of 6MPH (10 KPH)
How do you guarantee the safety of the user while they are blind walking?
There a number of safety features incorporated on The Infinadeck. The users are always safe on The Infinadeck. As they walk in VR, they can see the safety ring in their peripheral vision at any time, they can reach out and grab the ring. When they grab and move the ring, the unit immediately will stop. The sensors on the users also signal the system if there is an abnormal situation and the unit will stop.
What are the features of the Infinadeck you are the proudest of?
The ability for anyone to hop on The Infinadeck and have an incredible, truly immersive experience. It feels so natural that for the first time, a user can really experience really being IN VR. There is no brain power focused on walking as it is so natural. Within a few minutes, users gain the confidence to walk on the system without limits.
It’s a while that the community doesn’t hear from you. How is business doing?
Business for Infinadeck is going very well. At the end of 2019, we took on some investors and we now have many clients in the health care, education, military, and film production industries. These are the types of clients that seek solutions that truly simulate natural walking. We are focused on the business markets now while we finalize our consumer-based units for the masses, a smaller, faster, lighter, consumer priced device.
Can you give me some examples of your typical customers?
The US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and large medical facilities are clients of ours. We have clients in Europe, The US, and in Australia,
Do you think that what you are doing can be miniaturized in the future and become a consumer device (like in Ready Player One) or is it highly improbable?
As mentioned, we will introduce our consumer device for the masses soon. Our future consumer unit will be smaller (in height, length, and width), be far lighter, be very fast and reactive, and be priced for consumers so anyone can have one. The walking surface will be small too. It will be made for the home. And users will have access to a software platform to access games and fitness apps to take full advantage of The Infinadeck.
Look at the treadmill from the movie: it looks like The Infinadeck. Probably Spielberg has taken inspiration from it (Image by Warner Bros)
What’s the cost of an Infinadeck treadmill and how can it be purchased?
Individuals seeking this information can contact us at email@example.com. The unit configurations drive our pricing.
What are Infinadeck’s plans in the short, mid and long term?
Our short term plan is to focus on the business or enterprise markets for our customers. In the medium term, we will roll out our consumer device and in the long term, there will be Infinadecks all over the world, in many households for users to go anywhere they want in VR and at the same time, get great exercise and most importantly, have tons of fun. They will be able to access any games or fitness apps or tour anywhere they want… all on The Infinadeck
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in these years of VR business that you want to share with the community?
The biggest lesson is that like any other force, VR will persist and it is now here to stay. And, it will impact all aspects of our lives in extremely positive ways. The use cases people are using VR for are incredible. I listen to them every day and it is amazing what people are doing with this technology.
I thank a lot Ken for the time he has dedicated to me. What I found amazing from this interview is that not only Infinadeck is still in business, but it is even aiming at the consumer market! I’m very curious to see how they’ll be able to miniaturize their existing technology and how they’ll integrate it into already existing games like Half-Life: Alyx. I’m also curious about the final price. I’m looking at it with great attention, because the movement that the Infinadeck allows is truly natural, and this has the potential to become the best locomotion option we may have for VR. Fingers crossed for the next year…
(Header image by Warner Bros)