Run around physical arenas in virtual reality games with The Void

Laser Quest meets 4D meets The Matrix
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No-one sits in the same position with an Xbox controller glued to their hands all day. You might think you do if you're a hardcore gamer but in fact you get up and walk around, even if it's just to the fridge to graze.

Read this: Oculus Rift v Project Morpheus - release date update

If we don't do it in real life, why would we want to do it in VR? That's the reasoning behind Utah-based startup The Void which is building physical stages and rooms for gamers strapped in to VR headsets to roam around and interact with. It wants us to visit its Gaming Pods like we used to visit arcades so that we can live the games, reach out and touch in-game controls, wield weapons and duck round corners. And it looks insane.

It's as simple as this - the startup builds physical arenas - which it calls Gaming Pods - which mirror the VR game world you're experiencing. So if you turn a corner in VR, you turn a corner in real life.

If you are holding a gun in VR, you're holding a prop shaped like a gun. If you playing with a friend, they are realised in virtual reality and vice versa for buttons and controls - you're not tapping thin air.

Total immersion

As for the tech, forget everything you've heard about immersion in VR so far. The Void uses proprietary Rapture HMD headsets with two curved OLED 1080p displays and head-tracking sensors, a 'backtop' of a laptop in a backpack to power it, a haptic vest, THX headphones which work with in-game binaural sound, in-line mics and VR gloves for input.

We don't know how The Void is tracking players moving around the Gaming Pods yet - no doubt some sort of precise motion capture system - and some of the tech such as how the gloves work is still sketchy at this stage. We'll keep an eye on developments with The Void as it finalises its plans for next-gen entertainment. The company hints at 4D effects such as smoke, smell effects and 'rain' - tacky at Disneyland but no doubt mind-blowing in this environment - as well as elevation and temperature changes.

Playing games or experiencing demos in VR can be quite a communal experience already - ironic as they are experienced solo. But companies like The Void are tapping into this idea of making virtual reality a kind of 'shared dream' as attending the cinema was once described.

It means anyone excited by the tech doesn't have to fork out on a VR headset that might be out of date in six months and it could even end the debate on what to do for wacky birthday outings once and for all.


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Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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