It is not a surprise that the first thing that comes to mind after hearing the words ‘virtual reality’ is the entertainment industry. Afterall, it became famous thanks to futuristic looking headsets and computer games.
Not everyone plays video games, and the truth is that virtual reality goes far beyond gaming. It is in our nature – we all love being entertained. Whether it is in our living room, or in a theme park – virtual reality had its impact on all of them.
So how does entertainment industry use virtual reality? What else does it have to offer then things we had already encountered long time ago
Entertainment is usually associated with immersion, escape and bringing impossible to life; thus making us forget about the reality. Virtual reality offers precisely the same, but with a massive technological incentive, stimulating environment and graphic that often look better than the truth.
So put aside what you already know and prepare to discover new ways of entertainment and virtual reality. From expensive amusement parks to virtual reality cinemas and… adult industry.
Virtual Reality Cinemas
If there is a new technology coming out, cinemas and film industry are always the first ones to try it out. And it was not any different with virtual reality.
As it is, cinemas already carry an immersive atmosphere around them, wanting the audience to get lost in a different world. The first improvement was introducing 3D films which allowed the audience to actively, and physically, experience the environment from the screen.
But, not many know that the first attempt of making cinema more interactive goes back to 1960 when the film ‘Scent of Mystery’ included a new technology called ‘Smell-O-Vision’. The new edition released odours and scents to fulfil the action from the screen. Back then, it was a ridiculous experiment that turned out to be taken as a joke, but it opened a window to 3D cinema and IMAX as a pioneering provider of an enhanced cinematic experience.
IMAX is at the forefront of the latest technological upgrades to cinemas worldwide. Recently, they partnered up with a director and producer Michael Bay (‘Transformers’), video game developer Starbreeze and Google to create six ‘virtual reality hubs’ around the world. Rooted in the cinematic experience, these hubs are expected to incorporate a stunning cinematography and IMAX’s award-winning vistas.
If you are a fan of virtual reality and cinema, you should consider going to Amsterdam, which is a home of the first VR cinema. Opened in early 2016, The VR Cinema does not resemble a traditional cinema – audience sits in a plain room, without a screen, equipped only with office-style spinning chairs. Wearing a head-mounted display, participants view the film entirely in virtual reality.
Virtual Reality Amusement Parks
Another treat for those who love to escape reality and pretend to live in a different world. We are all familiar with Disney, Universal Studios and many others who are behind some of the most well-made animated films.
They also have one more similarity – they like to invest in their amusement parks. All of them have been working with a stimulation technology to enhance the experience even more and create stimulation rooms such as Star Tours.
Apart from wearing the visible head-mounted displays, they also have HD screens, excellent sound system and motorised seats to encourage the adventure even more.
Amusement parks have also been focusing on building VR rollercoasters. Six Flags Virtual Reality Rollercoaster is perhaps the most popular and has experienced a tremendous success ever since its launch in early 2017. These rollercoasters still function as the traditional ones, but they also equipped users with a head-mounted display that transports riders to fantastical environments in a far more immersive fashion. Some of them feature dragons, different planets or even give an illusion of other flying objects being around.
One of the pioneers in this field is VR Coaster who partnered up with American-based Six Flags amusement parks to add VR into their rollercoasters. The company uses the Samsung Gear VR mobile-based headsets and gives riders an entirely different level of entertainment.
Naturally, China has followed the American trend and created a similar model of VR rollercoaster – Spaces – worth $30 million in the capital. The former Dreamworks executives wanted to upgrade already existing amusement parks with VR capabilities and build new VR centres.
Virtual Reality-enhanced rollercoaster can not only enhance the riding experience but also give a genuine sense of speed and wind gusts. Who knows, maybe one day we won’t even need a physical rollercoaster, and we could get the same experience by sitting down in our living room with a VR headset.
Augmented Reality TV
Augmented reality is undoubtedly one of the fascinating things that came out from the virtual reality concept. And it did find its use in the entertainment industry as well.
Apart from cinema, the television industry is another one that quickly embraces new technologies. From HD to 3D and 5k resolution TV sets. There is a lot that manufacturers continuously strive to introduce to give customers more reasons to invest in the latest gadgets.
There is a new type of television experience, known as ‘Augmented Television’. One of the leaders in this field is SeeSpace, a startup company that invented the InAir AR technology for TV.
This tool uses an already existing TV set and its 3D capabilities (yes, you need a 3D TV set to be able to enjoy virtual reality TV) and it looks for a related web content, TV programming and anything that can be viewed. The content slides in through the headset, it is easily accessible, but it does not obstruct any view.
While Augmented Reality TV still has a lot to explore, it opened a discussion of what television may look like shortly. The possibilities are fascinating and could involve an entirely new storytelling capabilities. Viewers could experience their favourite TV shows from every single angle and react to whatever is happening on the screen.
Virtual Reality and the Adult Industry
We have reached the most interesting, and controversial, aspect of virtual reality and entertainment – the adult industry. The truth is, porn is responsible for the success of many entertainment technologies, from the rise of VHS tapes to HD television sets.
Today, it is predicted that by 2025 the VR pornography market will reach $1 billion and overtake the video games regarding a revenue. While it may sound dubious, the adult industry is well-known for being one of the most lucrative ones, and it will not change one it incorporates VR.
The big players in the industry are already releasing 360-degree videos, remote-operated devices as sex toys, and… head-mounted displays that can imitate a real-life intercourse and humans.
However, one of the most exciting things has already happened – The Glance App, available for the Google Glass augmented reality headset. The VR gadget allows two headsets to stream views to each other. In other words, two people can see through each other’s eyes engaged in a variety of activities.
The entertainment industry has always been one of the first ones to incorporate any new technologies that will help with bringing more customers on board. While in some countries, the film industry is about to experience the 3D technology, most are already looking into what is next.
And the next big thing for the entertainment industry is virtual reality. Making it possible for humans to get entirely immersed in the world of amusement and pleasure. It is still in its infancy stage, where only early adopters got convinced, but the more everyday examples there will be, the more people will be persuaded to VR.
What is your favourite aspect of the entertainment industry using virtual reality? Have you tried any of the examples we mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below!