As promising as the first generation of consumer virtual reality is, it’s not without its drawbacks: cables that tether users to their computers, a space-hogging setup, and prohibitive prices (at least for people who don’t already own a high-end gaming PC). All signs point to a revolution in its infancy. Yes, VR is finally good enough to deliver that elusive sense of presence—but only for a relative few.
That’s what The Void is trying to fix by merging VR with the real world. It truly is a physical playground for VR.
By blending high-end VR with real-world elements, the Utah startup is turning VR from an early-adopter’s kludgefest into a destination activity for the masses. (Think less LAN party, more playground.) Its “hyperreality” experiences hinge on a VR environment where the terrain and features inside the goggles correspond with the IRL layout of an enclosed arena.
The arena’s maze of low, black walls become something much more as they’re mapped perfectly to the virtual environment in front of your eyes. Participants strap on a back-mounted computer and haptic vest to go with the Void’s homebrew HMD—essentially an Oculus Rift with beefed-up audio and tracking. Players then venture into the arena, where an exhaustive network of overhead trackers follows their whereabouts and trigger real-world interactive elements like misters and vibrating floor panels.
While the company currently only has two experiences—an exploration adventure set in a jungle temple, and an action romp in the Ghostbusters universe—it’s at work on others, and after two years of development is finally about to open its doors to small groups of ticketholders. Before they do, though, we visited their all-new headquarters and entered the Void for ourselves.
Verdict: The Void is everything but empty.