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Virtual Reality (VR) was the city’s talking point at Mobile World Congress (MWC) last month, and it has become increasingly clear that VR will be the tech trend of 2016. while apparently all tech companies are looking to claim a slice of the VR pie, including HTC, Facebook, Google, Intel and maybe even Apple.
The latest industry to give credence to the idea that virtual reality is going to swallow the world is the cinema. News emerged this week that a Netherlands-based company was presenting what it touts as the world’s first permanent virtual reality cinema, with the aptly named VR Cinema opening in Amsterdam after a successful pop-up cinema tour. in Europe last year. Further permanent outlets are planned for later this year in Berlin, London, Barcelona and Paris.
So what exactly can you expect from a night at the VR cinema?
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Well, as you might expect, this deviates from the traditional form of cinema, in that you’re not sitting in a dark room staring straight ahead. The room is filled with swivel chairs, each armed with a headset and a Samsung Gear VR headset.
Viewers who are not taking part in the experience will see a group of people most likely facing different directions, and each potentially viewing different movies in different ways. It could be compared to a silent disco in some ways, as everyone could have a different experience.
Open Wednesday through Sunday, tickets to the VR cinema cost â¬ 12.50 (about $ 13.70) a pop, and there are shows by the hour, with room for around 400 visitors each day. It should be noted that since these are VR movies, these aren’t the latest blockbusters that you would normally see in your local multiplex. The company offers a set of VR films with a total duration of approximately 35 minutes, designed to demonstrate what VR can be used, âwe are told. While it is possible to provide different experiences for each user, for now, each visitor to each performance will see the same movies at around the same time.
To call it a cinema does the concept of cinema a disservice. Movie theaters are usually social experiences – it’s a night where everyone watches the same thing for two hours and then discusses the good and bad of the story or the game afterward. With VR cinema, it feels like the talking point is designed to be more about the technology and the experience than the movie.
And this is a key point. There’s nothing particularly unique about a VR theater itself that can’t be replicated in your bedroom, except most people don’t have their own VR gear and, well, virtual reality is still a thing of the past. nascent media that takes time to infiltrate the general public. In fact, you are paying to rent the equipment for a short time, with experts on hand to help you understand the technology.
It’s clearer than ever that VR is here, it’s not a gimmick, and 2016 could prove to be a pivotal year for the media. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are betting big on virtual reality, and it’s hard to ignore. But it’s still early days, where apps and use cases outside of gaming are tested and tested in different ways.
âVirtual reality is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience whatever they want,â Zuckerberg said during a speech at MWC. âRight now it’s mainly used for games. But that’s changing, and that’s why Facebook is investing so much in virtual reality, so that we can deliver these new social experiences. Virtual reality will be the next social platform.
Interestingly, Zuck highlighted a number of scenarios outside of the game where VR could become the norm. âImagine being able to sit in front of a campfire and hang out with friends whenever you want,â he continued, âor being able to watch a movie in a private theater with your friends whenever you want.â
This gives a good clue as to how VR can possibly be used in the cinema arena – rather than everyone going to the same place to attach a headset to their face, they just do it at home in their own. remains private. The âsocialâ aspect arises when friends choose to watch the same thing at the same time, either in the same room or from a distance.
“When the first film show took place at the end of the 19th century, no one could imagine that film would become one of the most important means of communication and entertainment today,” said the founder of VR Cinema, Jip Samhoud, at VentureBeat. âI predict that virtual reality has the same future in prospect.
âWe have done a few pop-up editions in different cities and countries earlier, and each edition has been such a success that we have decided to open a permanent cinema where visitors can still enjoy and experience the latest VR films,â said he added. âFor other cities, we are looking for the right and the best places to open the cinema. Berlin’s location is almost confirmed.
The technology is already here – all that’s left is to test the water to see what the demand is for mass-market VR experiences.
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