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Marketplace

Taking virtual reality beyond video games

Kai Ryssdal and Ben Johnson May 21, 2015
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Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson recently learned to fly. Well, in the virtual world anyway.

Johnson took a virtual flight over New York City (complete with crashes) with the help of Birdly, a full-body VR simulator designed by the Institute for Design Research at the Zürich University of the Arts.

 “It’s kind of ridiculous and amazing because you can just fly around this map of Manhattan and…it’s not really a game, it’s something else,” Johnson says.

A flying simulator is great, but as Johnson says, the cost of making all that 3D content is prohibitive — for now, anyway.

“It is getting cheaper. And it’s getting cheaper for people who don’t make video games,” he says.

So how are companies going to monetize virtual reality outside of the video game space?

“It really could be, in many ways, the future of everything from entertainment…to a place where you could actually go shopping. Think of an Amazon mall that you’re moving around in from home,” Johnson says.  

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