Steven Spielberg brings VR to US malls

Three film studios are funding a VR store in LA that will use 16 cameras and sensors and capitalize on popular franchises.

February 21, 2017

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Three film studios are funding a VR store in LA that will use 16 cameras and sensors and capitalize on popular franchises.

Malls and other public venues give consumers an opportunity to see the value of VR headsets, but expensive in-store systems can be more technologically advanced, too (Source: Marco Verch/Flickr)

Getting virtual reality headsets to take off has proven challenging. One of the main challenges is the high price given that many people do not know what kind of experience to expect when using them. As VR headsets start making their way into movie theaters and theme parks, however, that might start to change. Perhaps the biggest potential for consumers to get an understanding of VR is at their local shopping mall.

VR experience areas were popping up in malls around China throughout 2016. Now, director Steven Spielberg and three studios want to launch their own VR stores in malls across the US. They already have plans to roll out a storefront in a Los Angeles mall this fall and are contemplating expansion next year.

The venture is called Dreamscape Immersive. It will adopt technology from Swiss company Artanim, which will employ 16 cameras and sensors that will accommodate up to six simultaneous users. This makes the technology much more sophisticated than what is currently possible with home systems from Sony, HTC and Facebook's Oculus.

In addition to the improved technology, the VR environments will be related to major film franchises. The VR experience, in this case, would not just be about the technology and gameplay. The film studios want to leverage their intellectual property to get people into the store. What this means for development of similar content for the home is an open question, but it is not hard to imagine developers putting precedence on in-store experiences from which repeat visits can generate more profit.

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