The first wave of home-based virtual reality systems, including Facebook’s Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, are tethered experiences that connect the headset to a PC. Even the upcoming October release of Sony’s PlayStation VR will be connected to the PlayStation 4.
The secret of the Backtop is a high-powered portable PC that controls all processing and rendering at key moments in the experience. The Backtop computer also drives the haptic vest with 22 points of feedback and tracking that is synchronized with the experience. “When a ghost hits you in the Void, you feel it,” Jensen says.
Also, part of the Ghostbusters gear is the Rapture head mounted display (HMD), which comes packed with a wider field of vision and higher definition screens than what’s available on early home platforms. The Rapture also incorporates 3D audio and a near focus microphone, allowing users to communicate during the experience.
Rounding out the equipment is the Nova MK IV gun, which is programmed with three types of haptic feedback. Jensen said this simulates all the things you would expect from wielding a proton gun in a Ghostbusters world, including snagging and capturing ghosts.
While this marks the Void’s first movie-licensed experience and first consumer application of its technology, the Utah-based startup has been busy of late. Curse of the Serpent’s Eye, an Indiana Jones-style multiplayer experience from the Void, was demonstrated at the TED 2016 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in February. The company is also opening up its first Void Entertainment Center (VEC) in Pleasant Grove, Utah this summer. The 65,000 square foot entertainment destination is the first of what Bretschneider hopes will become a global “IMAX for virtual reality.” If all goes according to plan, Hollywood studios will be able to create virtual reality experience tie-ins to blockbuster film franchises that can be played in VECs, as well as in other locations around the world.
For Sony Pictures, this is the latest experiment with the new medium of virtual reality, following smaller single-player experiences based on The Walk and Goosebumps designed for home-based virtual reality playtforms.
“We have always felt that in order for something to be ‘VR worthy’ it has to transport you somewhere you otherwise couldn’t go,” Zim explains. “We’ve put people into virtual reality experiences that have taken them to unattainable places; on a wild adventure in a car with Jack Black for Goosebumps and up on the top of the Twin Towers to step out onto a wire in The Walk. Those experiences solidified our belief that VR could be exceptional entertainment when it offered people a chance to step into a fantastic world, and what better version of that than to become a Ghostbuster and blast ghosts?”