As certain forward-thinking magazines predicted last year (ahem), VR’s first mass-culture moment has arrived not as a device but as a destination. There’s far more immersive potential in a dedicated VR facility—with its stagecraft and high-end components—than what’s currently possible in your living room. Already, companies like The VOID and Star VR are running bespoke experiences where you can roam imaginary worlds untethered, and Imax has installed virtual reality centers in three of its multiplexes. Next up: A new outfit called Dreamscape Immersive promises to supercharge the escapism of “location-based” VR.
The key is a nifty motion-capture algorithm. By putting trackers on your hands and feet, plus a laptop on your back, Dreamscape can extrapolate what your limbs are doing. The result is a system that brings your full body into VR and enables you to share the experience—and props—with others. Playing catch with a flaming torch; reaching out and feeling the head of a creature that has sidled up to you; swinging a baseball bat and connecting with a real pitch: It’s all unlike anything else in the medium. “We’re not going to be a ‘VRcade,’” says Dreamscape CEO Bruce Vaughn. “This is a chance to transport people into imaginative worlds.”
When can you give it a go? This year. The top floor of Los Angeles’ Westfield Century City mall will soon be home to an array of Yves Béhar–inspired Dreamscape “pods”—and is previewing the experience via a pop-up location until March 7. If you can’t make it to LA, AMC has committed to installing pods in at least six other cities. Oh, and Steven Spielberg is an early investor. E.T. in VR? ZOMG.
1 Everything about your avatar, from hairstyle to fashion, will be customizable. Nice jacket, bro.
2 Headsets are enhanced by a formidable tracking system.
3 With the computer on your back, you’re free to roam.
4 An algorithm relies on just a few body-tracking points to generate your avatar’s full range of motion.
Other virtual venues around Los Angeles
- Disneyland: In the Void’s collaboration with ILM, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, you infiltrate enemy territory disguised as a stormtrooper. Pew-Pew!
- IMAX VR Centre: Panoramic headsets and multiplayer gaming galore—including a John Wick tie-in that makes you feel like Keanu (in a good way).
- Virtual Room Hollywood: You’ve played room escape games, but have you done it … in VR? Team-based egress, 21st-century style.
This article appears in the March issue. Subscribe now.