The first IMAX VR Experience Centre has been officially opened in Los Angeles, just one block away from the movie theaters of The Grove shopping center at Fairfax Avenue.
The IMAX VR center in Los Angeles is the first of many planned such facilities, with four more across the United States and China already on their way.
What Can Customers Expect At The IMAX VR Experience Centre?
According to IMAX, its VR centers feature "a unique combination of premium technology and world-class content," allowing customers to experience the wonders of virtual reality through different VR headsets, 360-degree sound, and room-tracking technology.
Replacing the seats found in traditional theaters, the IMAX VR center in Los Angeles houses 14 so-called pods, which are large spaces designed for virtual reality experiences. Most pods are equipped with the HTC Vive, though a few have the more experimental StarVR headset by Starbreeze. The pods also have a Dbox cinema chair, a Subpac vest that emits vibrations, and several different physical controllers.
Customers will not pay an entry fee to occupy one of the pods, but once they enter the space, they will be able to choose from various VR experiences that have prices ranging from $7 to $10. Among the options for customers are Star Wars: Trials On Tatooine, Knockout League, The Walk, Eagle Flight, and John Wick Chronicles, all of which maximize the room-scale virtual reality systems of the IMAX VR center. HTC has also been tapped to create unique experiences for IMAX VR centers.
The Importance Of The IMAX VR Center
IMAX, which was announced in May 2016 to have entered a partnership with Google to develop a VR camera suited for cinemas, has been teasing the launch of VR centers for almost a year. Since then, other cinema companies such as the MK2 in Paris have launched similar concepts.
The importance of the IMAX VR center, the MK2, and other facilities like them is the fact that it allows people to experience virtual reality without having to make the necessary investments into the required systems. There are also some people who would only like to occasionally experience virtual reality, such as trying out VR experiences linked to their hobbies or genres that they love, which means that investing in the HTC Vive is not a good idea for them.
If IMAX is able to prove that the business model of its VR center works, then it will proceed with the other VR centers that it has planned to put up in New York, California, the United Kingdom, and China. IMAX has raised $50 million for the development and construction of these facilities, but that money will only be spent on more VR centers if people show up to try the IMAX VR center in Los Angeles.
While the Los Angeles center has only now officially launched, the facility has actually been accepting customers for weeks, with 5,000 people already having experienced what the IMAX VR center has to offer. IMAX is claiming that 90 percent of customers are satisfied, and ticketing pages reveal that time slots are quickly running out for VR experiences.