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I ordered 'Vroom Service' in a Marriott Hotel

2015-09-29

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Virtual reality is a strange activity to offer in a hotel. If you're halfway around the world for a vacation or a business trip, you're usually there to go outside for one reason or another. Sightseeing, attending meetings, that sort of thing, not slapping a headset on and losing yourself elsewhere. But then, Marriott isn't like most hotels -- many of its branches in the UK are in the business of selling luxury, no expense spared accommodation. Here, guests want a special stay, and like an expensive cruise, that means increasingly elaborate activities and facilities. If it's done correctly, VR experiences could be a glamorous and unique add-on, just like ordering a back rub or late-night room service.

 

Or at least, that's the thought process behind Marriott's new "VRoom Service."

 

VR is in a strange place right now. Everyone is waiting for the first set of premium VR headsets -- the consumer Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and Sony's PlayStation VR -- to be released to the public. They're all scheduled to come out next year, and in the meantime everyone is making do with developer kits and smartphone-powered models like Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR. Most of the focus has been on VR-compatible video games, which is hardly surprising given Sony and Valve are backing two of the most promising headsets. But to have a broader mainstream appeal, VR will need to go beyond gaming. We've already seen a number of VR experiments in this vein, including 360-degree music videos, documentaries, and an animated short film called Henry.

 

Marriott has been tinkering a few ideas of its own. Last year, it created "Teleporter" booths that took you to a Hawaiian beach or the top of a London skyscraper. The walk-in capsules used the Oculus Rift, wireless headphones and a range of nozzles, vents and heat lamps for 4D effects. Marriott says it was more of a "thrill ride" though, and wanted to follow up with something more subtle and inspirational. That work led to VRoom Service, a portable VR kit that guests can use to watch exotic, 360-degree travel videos.



(Read more at: Engadget.com)