The entertainment venue considers itself an 'early adopter' of technology you could soon see at home
Garth Brophy has high hopes for virtual reality.
The regional operations manager for London's Palasad saw the technology showcased at a recent trade show in Orlando, Florida and immediately saw potential.
"It was obvious to me that the technology had taken a massive leap forward," he said. "To the point where commercial application and entertainment application like ours started to make sense."
After months of research Palasad partnered with Waterloo, Ont.-based Ctrl-V to build two virtual reality suites at their facility in the Southdale Rd and Pine Valley Blvd area at a cost of about $10,000 each.
Both suites are painted black, offer about 100 square feet so customers can't bump into each other, or trip over furniture.
"Once you strap on the headset, you're not aware of your actual physical surroundings," Brophy said. "It is 360 degrees. It is completely three-dimensional and you see what the developer intended for you to see."
Each one comes equipped with virtual reality headsets and wands that are plugged into high end gaming computers that use the open source gaming platform Steam, offering customers a chance to immerse themselves in a huge selection of other worlds.
"Whether you want to fight off the zombie apocalypse or play mini golf, or anything in between, we got the ability to do that," Brophy said, noting that most of the games on offer are a departure from the first person shooter games that most people associate with virtual reality systems.
Brophy said he has "high hopes" for the newly-installed virtual reality suites at the Palasad and thinks that the success of commercial entities such as his will one day pave the way for virtual reality systems inside peoples' homes.
"We're early adopters," he said, noting the system is the only one of its kind in London.
"I think commercial success is what is going to be needed for developers to get the financial backing to invest the time and energy into coming out with even more immersive titles and I think when that happens we'll see more people bringing it into their homes."
Where: The Palasad South, 141 Pine Valley Boulevard
Cost: $15 for 30 minutes
When: Monday to Friday, after 5 p.m. - Saturday and Sunday, all day