Can You Profit on the Latest VR Treadmill?

Can You Profit on the Latest VR Treadmill?

Ever wondered what it would be like to walk around on Mars? Or explore a dungeon from your favorite video game? Actually walking through them. Using your own to legs.

That’s what the omnidirectional treadmill promises to do.

As the visual components of VR continue to improve at breakneck speed, there will be more and more demand for immersion accessories. Haptics are certainly part of this equation. But the VR accessory we have our eyes on is the omnidirectional treadmill.

And today we have for you a company who promises to change the space. Right now, they are crowdfunding on Wefunder and we’re here to answer the question “Will they profit?”

OmniPad: Lightweight, portable and cost-effective

The company is called OmniPad, and they are going up against a few VR treadmill competitors—Virtuix and Infinadeck being the major players.

Even with the competition, there are a few good reasons to be optimistic about OmniPad. For one, they have managed to secure patents on a promising method for portable omni-directional locomotion.

Here’s what the prior Undersecretary of Defense, Charles Cragin, had to say about OmniPad:

“Mr. Neil Epstein, a distinguished and EMMY award-winning animator, has patented his treadmill concept and is working tirelessly to bring his concept to the attention of officials responsible for the development of more realistic ambulatory platforms that can be utilized in a virtual environment.”

We believe OmniPad has the potential to beat out major competitors. After securing their first million in funding, here’s what the team has accomplished:

  • Secured R&D Facility in Silicon Valley

  • Hired a Chief Engineer, Stanford Graduate

  • Positive initial analysis and design studies

  • Filed two new provisional patents

  • Filed domestic and international trademarks

But most excitingly, they have begun the molding and assembly processes for the OmniPad.

The Competitive Landscape

After initial observation, our guess is that Infinadeck will lose the VR treadmill race. Their particular design relies heavily on electronics and lots of moving parts, making it prone to hardware malfunction. And it’s crazy expensive. Most devastatingly, their treadmill’s success depends on ridiculously fast responses to human movement. In fact, it may even need to predict human movement to “seem” free-flowing. Watch this video to see what we mean.

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Virtuix is on the right track with the “slick track” concept. And they certainly have the first mover advantage, with functioning products, greater presence at trade shows, and exciting contracts.

They managed to raise $7M prior to launching a successful campaign on Wefunder in 2015, so they have the momentum and validation that we usually look for. Jan Goetgeluk, founder of Virtuix, managed to sell more than 2,000 Omnis in 2017 to malls, gaming arcades, and various other venues around the world. And each of those was $7,000.

Their website sits at 118.9K visits per month at the time of this writing—meaning they have over 10x more traffic than Infinadeck’s website. Not a deal breaker, but certainly worth noting.

But… their tech may not be realistic enough. The slick surface may not properly simulate walking on the regular ground. Based on some user feedback, it appears walking on this type of surface feels like walking on ice, which is not what a reality-blindfolded user wants to experience.

OmniPad promises to fix many of these problems. Watch the video below to get an understanding of the theory behind the product.

The Uncertainty

While the concept behind OmniPad is exciting, they have yet to demo a functioning product. The underlying concept and patent are certainly promising, but the pitch deck didn’t describe the current state of the prototype and modeling. For all we know, there could be hundreds of roadblocks before the device even functions. And that would put a huge delay in the “12 - 18 months to produce the initial run.”

Overall, we’d like to see a bit more detail than “Commenced OmniPad Prototype Development.”

The other bit we are concerned about has to do with market validation. Without any existing sales data, their projection numbers seem overly optimistic.

Here’s the “middle-case” revenue scenario based on their loose estimations for the next 5 years:

  • Military Sales: Up to 5,000 units x $20,000 = $100M

  • Commercial Sales 100,000 units x $7,500 = $750M

  • Consumer Sales: 2M units x $900 = $1.8B

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The problem is that they haven’t validated 1) whether the product will function as intended or 2) whether military or commercial organizations will adopt the product. Just saying “we plan to be 5% of the total market cap and valued at $100M market cap” is certainly not enough.

The reviewing CPA has also stated concerns about the company financials. The company may not have enough money to achieve profitability. And even if they raise funds through a crowdfunding round, the CPA notes it will be hard to anticipate how quickly they will burn through the funds.

While the management team has relevant technical experience, nobody on their team appears to have previous experience in creating and growing a multimillion-dollar company. And to us, the branding, the layout of the deck, and the wording of their presentation missed a certain marketing pizazz. If they can’t sell to investors, it will be hard to sell to consumers.

The Final Decision: So-So

The concept of OmniPad is very promising. In fact, it is the most promising thing about the team’s pitch deck. If the team can deliver the first release and successfully deploy to market, they could beat Infinadeck and Virtuix. If—and that’s a big “if”— the product works as intended.

But timing and execution are arguably far more important than concept.

Even though OmniDeck could promise a superior “omnidirectional locomotion,” we believe there are still too many uncertainties surrounding the company in the current state. Keep them on your radar by all means, but for now, they are So-So.

You can view the OmniPad listing and access their pitch deck at Wefunder.com

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