By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – Virtual reality is finally here, but people in the Green Bay area will have to wait a few more months to get a taste of the groundbreaking technology.
Tony Reale and Sean Bowers are owners of Edge VR Arcade, a project they want to get off the ground by March of 2018.The two just passed through the village zoning process at the end of November.
Now they just have to get their location ready at 2642 Packerland Drive.
Where Reale and Bowers want to go is virtual reality that uses positional tracking to allow a user to physically move around a virtual space.
They will have two omni-directional treadmills, with special non-stick shoes for exploring virtual environments.
When you want to walk somewhere, you walk on the treadmill. When you need to duck or crouch, simply duck or crouch. There is no button on the controller that allows you to do this; you need to physically do the task yourself.
Through the use of infrared lasers built into dedicated headsets the user has a fully immersive, 360-degree experience.
“Our eyes are used to seeing things in real time, so there’s no real frame rate, per say for your eyes,” Reale said. “Film and video is often done at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second, but virtual reality needs a very high rate for your eyes to see something that’s not jittery, like 90 frames per second.”
This means each virtual reality station will have a dedicated, custom built, high end computer capable of delivering those images in 4K definition to the headset.
Edge VR Arcade will start with two treadmill stations if friends want to do co-op missions, plus four other non-treadmill stations. All will use the HTC Vive headsets.
“It’s not a traditional video game,” Reale said. “If you’re shooting and you’re holding a gun, your aim matters. Your physical aim matters. It’s not how good you can aim a (controller) stick or how good you are on a (directional) pad.”
Reale and Bowers are early adopters in the virtual reality arena. They both purchased development headsets when the technology was starting. They even set up dedicated spaces with treadmills at their homes.
After sharing the experience with friends, they knew they wanted to bring it to the rest of the public.
“The audience for this is very broad,” Reale said. “There are a lot of people who would like this who don’t like traditional video games. You’re not playing a video game per say, you’re playing the experience.”
Experiences are only limited by developers’ imaginations.
They want to include a changing rotation of games and experiences. Those could range from racing or flight simulators, to zombie shooters.
There also is an educational opportunity with virtual reality, like touring the Titanic, above and below the water, exploring the human body from a cellular perspective, or being part of the Apollo 11 mission.
“Virtual reality unlike any other medium is something you have to experience to fully understand it,” Reale said. “Being inside of a virtual reality game completely transports you. It allows to you be in that experience, in a way that no other medium has achieved before.”
The group hopes to have their space transformed into a virtual reality arcade by March. Until then people can follow Edge VR Arcade on Facebook for more updates as they happen.
“We want you to come here and have the best virtual reality experience you can have,” Reale said.