10 months after it opened its free-roam virtual reality warehouse space in Melbourne, Zero Latency is expanding beyond Australia's borders. Thanks to a new partnership with Sega's amusement park division, a custom Zero Latency VR setup will bring "the world's best virtual reality experience" to Tokyo.
Nearly 10,000 participants have walked through the door of Zero Latency's North Melbourne warehouse, and the small startup was recently named one of the world's 10 most innovating gaming companies by Fast Company. It's a far cry from the 2014 Pozible campaign that raised just $30,000.
Tokyo Joypolis will be the new home to the second Zero Latency warehouse-scale virtual reality experience, opening from July 2016 in celebration of Sega Live Creation's 20th anniversary. The free-roam VR space will be customised to suit, with all new gameplay content, new weapons and an entirely upgraded motion tracking system.
When we first tried the Zero Latency experience we were blown away”, said Kazuhiko Hayami, Sega Live Creation’s Executive Vice President, in a statement. “We knew we were witnessing the birth of a new medium, and we wanted to be involved straight away. We are only at the early stages of understanding what free-roam VR is capable of — it’s one of the most exciting technologies coming to market today.”
Supporting teams of up to six people simultaneously, the Zero Latency FRVR setup will be scaled up to suit Sega's large environment at Joypolis. Tim Ruse, Zero Latency's CEO, said the collaboration with Sega is an amazing opportunity for the fledgling company. "Inviting customers to experience warehouse-scale free-roam VR in Japan together with one of the world’s most iconic entertainment brands is a dream come true. We're excited about this world first project, and also about the future of our partnership.”
Ruse told Gizmodo the Zero Latency hardware has changed significantly since its consumer launch in Melbourne in the middle of last year. "Lots has changed since August 2015 — we've released new tracking hardware and software since Gizmodo was last here to increase accuracy and responsiveness. Also, the backpacks have been rebuild from the ground up and use Military Spec components and materials so they are as robust and comfortable as possible.
"We are also rolling out customized HMD's from Sensics using the OSVR platform. We also have new controllers. So it's come a long way. We have been iterating the games and hardware to make sure all our learning have been embedded in suite of products for our global roll-out."
Zero Latency's plan is to provide a "business in a box" for any international partners to set up and operate, rather than building and operating its own virtual reality experience centres. "We help with the design of the attraction, we install it and then provide ongoing support and content. We have online tools from system diagnostics to a booking engine. It's a complete turnkey package."
While Zero Latency can't talk about any specific plans for the near future, either in Japan or further abroad, it sounds like there's more on the horizon. "Can't say much about that yet. We are confident Japan will love free roam VR, and it will be an important market for us."