IMAX plans to bring vir­tual re­al­ity into the­aters

Fiji Sun - - Techworld - SOURCE: ENGADGET

In a move that we should have seen com­ing, IMAX an­nounced that it’ll be rolling out vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences in mul­ti­plex the­aters, malls and sim­i­lar lo­ca­tions later this year. The news comes on the heels of Google’s an­nounce­ment yes­ter­day that it’s build­ing a cin­ema-qual­ity vir­tual re­al­ity cam­era with IMAX.

Given that it’s been de­liv­er­ing im­mer­sive the­atri­cal ex­pe­ri­ences with gi­ant screens for decades, it makes sense for IMAX to do some­thing sim­i­lar with smaller VR dis­plays. IMAX is tap­ping Swedish de­vel­oper Star­breeze (who made the The Chron­i­cles of Rid­dick and Pay­day games) to use its soft­ware plat­form and StarVR head­set, which is no­table for of­fer­ing a 210-de­gree field of view (twice as much as the Ocu­lus Rift).

Ear­lier this week, Star­breeze also an­nounced that Acer will be help­ing it build those VR head­sets. Nat­u­rally, IMAX also hopes to tap into its Hol­ly­wood con­nec­tions to cre­ate VR ex­pe­ri­ences tied to ma­jor films. Richard Gel­fond, the com­pany’s CEO, tells the WSJ that he could see charg­ing around $7 to $10 for a 10-minute long VR ex­pe­ri­ence. That might sound a bit much, but given all the hard­ware and main­te­nance that VR re­quires, I wouldn’t be sur­prised if the fi­nal pric­ing ends up close to that range. IMAX plans to launch its VR ex­pe­ri­ences in six lo­ca­tions glob­ally by the end of the year. Ul­ti­mately, it will li­cense the tech­nol­ogy sim­i­lar to how it han­dles screens to­day: Theater own­ers will li­cense the VR ex­pe­ri­ences and pay IMAX a part of the rev­enue.

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