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Inside Business | 2 min read

Pure Immersion: The New Frontier for Virtual Reality

Ken Kennedy

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Ken Kennedy

Everyone relaxes in different ways. Some of us knit, some cook, some watch reality shows, and others? Well, others choose to slip on a virtual reality (VR) headset and spend 45 minutes fighting an imaginary zombie apocalypse.

Zero Latency is a Melbourne-based company facilitating these zombie wars, all through a system they have built called ‘multiplayer free roam’ VR gaming. By combining an Oculus Rift VR headset with headphones, a microphone, a backpack containing a computer and a bespoke firearm, you and your team, head off into the zombie wilderness, otherwise known as a Melbourne warehouse.

“For want of a better way to put it, you’re walking around inside a video game,” Tim Ruse, Zero Latency’s co-director, told Mashable after the game’s launch. “It’s a completely new form of entertainment. It’s a physical experience, almost like a theme park ride, but it’s a video game. It’s an interactive experience, but you’re also not using a controller, you’re using your entire body.”

Players have talked about shaking for hours afterwards as the adrenaline continues to surge and the game has been described as so immersive that people have been sick while playing. It’s certainly a far cry from a lazy game of Pacman.

While Zero Latency needs a sizable space to accommodate their game, the more traditional gaming companies have focused on creating VR headsets for the home.Google, Playstation, Samsung and the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift are all getting ready to bring the virtual reality experience to you. Playstation VR will let you wander around alien planets, drive incredibly fast and even become Batman while Google’s Daydream VR headset takes a multifaceted approach by offering gaming as well as educational, sport and concert experiences.

But what does this mean for those of us who baulk at the idea of taking our brains to another dimension?

Well, we need to climb on board as VR isn’t going anywhere and we can expect to see it rearing its virtual head in all aspects of our lives. This includes real estate, which comes full-circle back to those Zombie-hunters at Zero Latency. After receiving initial start-up funding from REA Group, as well as the venture capital firm Carthona Capital, Zero Latency’s computer code used to walk you around a zombie apocalypse was adapted to allow a user to walk around a virtual house or apartment.

In an interview last year,REA’s chief information officer Nigel Dalton said, “When they built the zombie game, they used components of walls and floors and rooms. When we build apartments, we use the same components. In the end, it was the same software.”

The code, which meant you could see and hear your fellow zombie killers, is also being repurposed so that potential buyers can meet with their real estate agents. In the future, as technology develops, it would mean that an agent selling an apartment in Australia could negotiate for clients all over the world.

In an interview withThe Australian,REA Group innovation team leader Luke Chadwick said that in the future buyers might go to a VR facility, much like Zero Latency’s Melbourne warehouse, and virtually walk through eight apartments in five minutes. It all sounds wonderfully futuristic and time-efficient, but there’s no escaping the fact that when it comes to selling houses and apartments, there’s not a VR headset around that will allow the buyer to hear the roar of passing trains or the noisy neighbours. Yet.

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