More than fun and games: Unreal VR co-founder Daniel Girgis, seated, with business partner Matt Thomas.
NEWCASTLE has gained another virtual reality hub in Unreal VR.
Six months after VRXP opened in Watt Street, Unreal VR has openedon the Pacific Highway in Charlestown.
Co-founders and relatives Daniel Girgis and Matt Thomas said their decision to open the business they label a start-upwas based on the increasingly broad appeal of virtual reality technology.
“VR has been around for 40 years but I have been watching the space and it’s becoming more commercially viable because the technology is getting so powerful,” says Mr Girgis, an industrial designer who also has his own company.
The Charlestown studio has four VR stations, or rooms, separated by curtains as well as a driving and flight simulator that has been a drawcard for both thrill-seekers and retired pilots.
“We are trying to appeal to families, professionals and businesses and for this also to be a studio for research to test new applications of VR,” says Mr Thomas.
“People are coming in for a fun experience and that covers the rent, but the real potential is in research and development across many industries.”
The business stocks a range of VR experience programs for punters but with Mr Girgis’ “super geek” background, also plans to develop its own.
The men say the only limit on the potential use of VR is your imagination.
Already, VR is being used in education, sport (to help athletes practice), training and even health and therapy.
“We are working with some therapists to assist with mood displacement, using different colours and experiences to lift mood,” says Mr Thomas of the research potential.
“The application of the technology really drives us in giving people an experience that they could otherwise not get.”
There is increasing interest in VR from the real estate sector –with estate agents giving virtual tours of apartments they are pre-selling.
The latest technology allows the viewer to change and mix and matchdesign and decor features of the home to allow the viewer to get a feel for what the final product will resemble.
Until recently the CEO of publicly-listed debt collection specialists Collection House, Mr Thomas relocated to Newcastle six months ago to be closer to family.
“I’m an escapee from the corporate world,” he says with a grin.
As such, he’s excited about the use of VR for training and team building purposes,providing an environment that gives people a chance to fail with a soft landing: “Anything that helps people work together more selflessly is a good thing,” he says.