Virtual Reality Theater Service at Japanese Cafes
Foggy Japanese internet cafes aren’t where the imaginable future of entertainment is typically discovered to the media. A group of said internet cafes and entertainment complexes will roll out a virtual reality ‘theater’ service across Japan, starting with 31 cafes in the Kanto area. Importantly, it’ll feature content that people will actually want to watch: a quick VR take on popular anime series Attack On Titan as well as a complete 15-minute Ghost In The Shell 360-degree CGI movie, and other classic movies. For better or worse, Gear VR will be powering the tech, and to make it seem all the more futuristic, some cafes will have egg chairs to sit in which is neat and innovative.
They’re cool, but they’re not comfortable.
The comics, and other anime and movies, are huge in Japan and it explains why people love it and this experience is setting records. Alas, it reeks of an IP cash-in for others. It’s only five minutes long, and it looks like it was made for smartphones, and that means that there are many new innovations out there. Weird clouds of smoke suddenly block vision, and it all looks rather quickly put together but in an amazing way. While your character zip-lines from building to building and from location to location, you move at an almost constant speed. Japanese people will have to pay 600 yen (just over five dollars), for such a brief video experience but it is pretty incredible, it shows the desire to have an experience like this.
It’s also notable that none of the content is interactive and the focus for now is on video content, although the companies involved say they are looking into offering more immersive options (and possibly even games) as VR continues to grow games are around the corner. (Yep, Oculus Rift was thought of.)
This was the first time I’ve seen throw away masks made especially for use with VR headsets so this is an incredible option and an affordable one. That spongey contact area between your face and the screen might be touching a lot of people, but in typical Japanese style, they’ve come up with a solution — a disposable paper mask that surrounds your eyes that is affordable for anyone and will fit comfortably.
On the other hand, Ghost In The Shell: Virtual Reality Diver is what allows when you invest money and effort into your VR content and not into the equipment. Despite screaming for a higher-resolution hardware to do it justice, the beautiful GOTS: VRD is a self-contained mini-story that blends well with the iconic anime movie and series that followed the first movie. Without spoiling it, it’s amazing, pretty and — simply put – well-constructed for all to enjoy the experience.
‘Ghost In The Shell: Virtual Reality Diver’ is what happens when you invest money and effort into your VR content and it is very profitable.
Interpia, which is behind the group of internet cafes, has associations with Samsung, which partially explains why the service is arriving on Gear VR over better, more advanced headsets but that also means the cost is higher. It’s also obviously cheaper hardware to set up. While the “Telepod” egg chairs make for a futuristic photo option and offer a degree of privacy for the wearer, but they’re not necessarily the best option when you’re craning your neck around inside a VR movie for the long term. VR Theater’s spokesman said that these pods will be limited to only a few cafes.
VR Theater attempts cuts away the steep price of entry for a tech that’s still in its infancy.. Gear VR itself requires a specific model of smartphone (and Japan is a country of iPhone users), while HTC’s Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR all have price tags approaching that of a standalone console which makes them a more affordable option for viewers.
That’s the point: if someone is already heading up to an internet cafe to play darts, read magazines, or use the internet, then they might be willing to pay 600 yen for a short video “experience” — and there will free content available on the VR Theater headsets for other options for viewers to consume.. The service is pitched at people who haven’t yet experienced (or even heard of) the recent changes in virtual reality and innovations. More people means more potential customers, and more demand for better, grander VR content: this may be just the start of better options for viewers.