Saturday, September 19, 2015

Will The Void Become The Ultimate Virtual Reality Experience?

Will A Revolutionary Theme Park Experience Called The Void
Become A Precursor to The Ultimate Virtual Reality Experience?

More important, could the technology platform that forms the foundation of The Void represent the holy grail of Virtual Reality (VR), opening up applications previously thought only appropriate for Augmented Reality (AR)? 

Anyone who has followed this blog along with my LinkedIn and Twitter posts over the past two years knows that I believe VR will win an important but narrow demographic, primarily gamers in addition to entertainment shorts and simulation experiences. Augmented Reality, on the other hand will find viable applications in industry, education, medicine, games, travel, etc, etc. I've gone so far as to predict Augmented and Mixed reality will become ubiquitous in our everyday lives in 3 to 5 years with VR achieving a more modest market profile. One of the primary reasons for this opinion is the fact that AR is available today to anyone in possession of an IOS or Android phone or tablet...  with Magic Leap potentially emerging as the ultimate wearable AR device. Indeed, it's only a matter of time until the many applications of AR become sufficiently refined to the point where they become both useful and practical in our daily lives. 

Though my opinion has not radically changed, I recently sat down with Ken Bretschneider, Founder and CEO of what I can only classify as a revolutionary new concept in VR called The Void.  Speaking with Ken, I learned about his team's innovations in VR opticals, full body VR, 4D, game play, and most important creative real world environments that actually transform into virtual environments that you navigate, explore, physically manipulate and engage in a truly immersive manner. Imagine participating in a multiplayer, first person shooter game where you're actually inside and walking around the physical game environment. With The Void, perhaps many of the most popular games such as Call of Duty or new experiences such as Avatar World or Ghost Busters or even old favorites like Doom will become places you can physically navigate on foot, experiencing the rush of intense game play without feeling confined to a couch or chair. Indeed, The Void would resolve current mobility limitations of VR and make immersive story telling more believable. Yes... the concepts he exposed to me are all technically very doable and, while I've yet to personally experience the game play, the description of how Ken's team has implemented the technology and creative environment is nothing short of genius.  Take a look...
According to their website, The Void, a new form of entertainment will debut in the Summer of 2016 with their first Virtual Entertainment Center (VEC) opening in Pleasant Grove, Utah followed by other VECs opening in major cities across the world.

This is far more than simply VR optical goggles, it's full body immersion that takes Virtual Reality to the next level. And, there is a very good possibility much of Ken's technology will eventually become available to the home consumer.

Ken is not just targeting games. Entertainment and education may also benefit from The Void technology. In fact, the entire theme park concept underlying The Void is so out of the box that it might even make AR advocates like me VR converts.

UPDATE: I had intended to travel to Utah to experience The Void first hand.  However, based on information that has recently come to me, I intend to wait 6 months for Ken to complete much of his critical mission R&D so I can give it an adequate assessment.  I believe there are many technical and monetization hurdles to overcome not the least of which is the correct business model and the sourcing of sufficient quality content prior to creating an installed base.  This might be overcome by partnering with branded theme parks. More to come.