Virtuix, the Austin company that's been working on a hardware system called Omni that allows virtual-reality players to walk and move around on a treadmill-like system, is going global.
The company has signed a deal with China's Hero Entertainment to develop virtual-reality esports for the Chinese company's esports league, Hero Pro Sports. It will help convert "Crisis Action," a popular first-person shooter with 400 million registered players, to VR. Virtuix is selling 5,000 to 10,000 Omni systems to UNIS, a supplier of arcade machines, as part of the deal.
And the company says it has raised $6 million in funding, in part with an investment from Leyard, a Beijing company that will help sell systems to entertainment centers, shopping malls and theme parks.
The $6 million Series A funding also includes money from 1,300 private investors via the SeedInvest online funding platform and funds from Hero Sports, the esports division of Hero Entertainment, Virtuix said Thursday.
In a statement, Virtuix’s founder and chief executive officer Jan Goetgeluk said, "We believe that virtual reality will take off faster and become bigger in China than anywhere else. WIth the Hero deal, we are teaming up with China’s premier FPS developer.”
Hero Entertainment president Daniel Wu said, "Gamers love first-person shooters, and the Virtuix Omni is a necessary platform to play first-person shooter games in VR. We are excited to enter China’s rapidly growing VR market together with Virtuix and to make the Omni available to our millions of players.”
VIrtuix is one of many Austin companies working in areas related to virtual reality, which has become an important emerging medium for video-game developers and some filmmakers in Austin. But Virtuix is unique in that it's working primarily on the hardware side with a product that makes VR more interactive and tactile for users. The problem of input and touch have been challenges for VR software makers that has otherwise been addressed with hand controllers or motion sensors.
Virtuix's Omni began life as a Kickstarter project in 2013, where the comany raised $1.1 million. It also had a "mini-IPO" earlier this year, bringing in $2.5 million. The company is now shipping early units to backers and offering the Omni for pre-order for $699 on its website. Virtuix says it has pre-sold 5,000 Omni devices to date.