Brisbane residents could soon be able to strap on a virtual reality kit and put a stop to a zombie apocalypse or investigate a secret military space station. Zero Latency, a free-roam virtual reality entertainment and training business, submitted a development application to the Brisbane City Council to open its first Brisbane site last week.
The application for 34 Chester Street, Newstead, proposed converting the present wholesale electrical business into a virtual reality space. Zero Latency chief operating officer Kyel Smith said the company chose Brisbane as its next location as the city had a younger population the company believed was looking for the next level of entertainment.
"We operate a mixture of owner-operated sites ... of which Brisbane will be our second one, and we have a whole bunch of international partners who run sites for us," Mr Smith said. "We're currently hunting for other sites in other capital cities in Australia and we kind of focused on Brisbane first."
Zero Latency is currently operating in Melbourne as well as Tokyo, Madrid and have several sites in the Unites States.
Zero Latency general manager Boris Bielert said while there were confidentiality agreements in place, he could reveal another five sites would open in south-east Asia by the end of 2017. "Also our first-ever site in Latin America in one of the larger cities there that we're very excited about and we are also at the start of a joint venture with another premium entertainment brand in Las Vegas," he said.
Griffith University socio-technical studies senior lecturer David Tuffley said virtual reality had taken off in Brisbane and was so high definition it was almost as good as being there.
"People just love to do it, it just meets that very human need to interact with each other and if you can do that properly in a virtual environment then people are going to go for it in a big way," he said.
"I think the people who are setting these things up have done their homework and I think people are hungry for these sorts of experiences. The thing is, the whole revolution with virtual reality is 10-15 years ago it would have cost a lot of money, a million dollars to get a really good set-up. Nowadays the various technologies that are necessary to make virtual reality work already exist and are well established and really cheap now."
Mr Bielert said Zero Latency had massive growth trajectory in the past financial year with a turnover of $12.5 million.
"In that free roam, virtual reality space we are really the global pioneer and category creator," he said. Of the 1133-square-metre Newstead site, about 400 square metres is proposed to be used for the actual gaming, but the site is also adaptable to be used for tactical training and education.
"For training purposes, we can recreate training scenarios," Mr Smith said. "In real life you can't have the same fire burning the same way so when training someone you can't compare person A to person B (but) we can. We can tell everything from what part they were looking at, what they first said, what they're excitement level and energy level was at the time."
Mr Bielert said Zero Latency had already been in discussions with several Queensland groups about training opportunities. Zero Latency's operational statement submitted as part of their development application said clients could include military, law enforcement, emergency services and mining sectors.
A Brisbane City Council spokesman said: "While the application does not require any construction work, it proposes to change the current commercial use to a sporting and recreational use."
"For this reason, council will assess the application for traffic and noise impacts," the spokesman said.
The development application proposed operating hours of 8am-10pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 8am to midnight Thursday to Saturday.
Mr Bielert said if approvals went to plan, doors would open in October.