Virtual Reality has been a long time coming, but despite the hype, VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have seen sluggish sales. It has struggled to go mainstream with reasons including lack of content, clumsy devices and lower standard images.

Is this about to change?

A team from TheNewsMarket had the chance to test out The VOID’s latest VR pop-up experience in London, “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire” – infiltrating an Imperial spacecraft and fighting Stormtroopers in a virtual world.

The VOID is a full sensory, immersive experience, with visitors walking around inside the action. It is location-based entertainment – that means you visit one of their locations – and you walk into real-time hyper-reality that combines interactive sets, real-time effects and amazing technology.

When you first step into the facility, you are being equipped with a high-tech backpack and helmet. The technology is fantastic as it allows for a completely untethered experience.

Up to 4 players take part in the same session, communicate via wireless devices and can see each other (as Stormtroopers) in a virtual world – fighting 3D enemies and intergalactic monsters.

This new form of adoption might well be what will bring VR to a mainstream audience. It is all about getting consumers to experience VR so they can adopt the technology.

This new form of VR is transforming what used to be a passive VR journey (just sitting on a chair and experiencing the environment) to a ‘Hyper-Reality’ experience:

  • Making it a more social experience. VR can be a very isolating experience. This is taking VR on a social, much larger scale. You can see fellow players in the virtual world while chatting through a headset-based microphone.
  • Merging VR and the real world. If you have used VR at home, there is nothing more annoying that coming into contact with a wall, a door or a piece of furniture. The VOID actually plays with its surrounding and incorporates physical elements into the experience – making it highly immersive and leading the way to the best of location VR. You not only see the environment but you feel it too.
  • Making it feel real. Sensorial elements make the experience very tactile. You can reach out and touch objects such as walls, seats, buttons, weapons and droids – in both real and virtual worlds. You smell sulphur, feel heat, vibrations and other soft elements recreating the environment you are in.

“I’ve been doing a lot of speaking on the state of immersive media these days, and it seems the big story is about location based experiences”, says Frank Radice, Expert in Residence. After spending time in The VOID, it’s become clear to me why that’s the case. In The VOID, you’re free to move around, communicate with others, play a game, handle props, have an adventure, and do it all in a fantastic universe that only VR, AR and XR can deliver. This is a glimpse into the future of the technology.”

Infrastructures like The VOID are designed to be flexible so that future stories and production can be brought into life. The possibilities for brands and movie studios are endless, providing a high level of engagement with their audiences and taking virtual reality towards a new, much needed form of adoption.

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Note: Frank Radice will be moderating the ‘Immersive Hollywood: VR – AR – MR’ panel at Digital Hollywood on May 23rd 2018.

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