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Unreal World

How Virtual Reality Is Taking Over Las Vegas

By Rob Kachelriess

Take a look around. The real world can seem a little dull sometimes. Even in Las Vegas. So it’s no surprise that people will latch onto any new opportunity to escape their everyday lives. Thanks to rapidly advancing technology, virtual reality is finally living up to its long awaited promise. And here’s the good news - there’s something for everyone in Vegas.

Take Flight in Vegas

Located in the heart of the Strip at The LINQ promenade, VR Adventures is an interactive attraction dedicated to artificial worlds created by immersive 3D technology. You may walk a bit, sidestep or jump, but for the most part, you spend your time stationed in one single spot. Just don a pair of goggles and choose one of several virtual reality experiences, including a few set in Las Vegas.

Take flight by ziplining from one tower to another at Caesars Palace or flying high above the Strip like Superman. For something a little more familiar, strap into a seat for a virtual rollercoaster ride where you will actually rumble and shake during every heart pumping twist and turn. But if you want something really scary, there’s a haunted mansion that will have you biting your virtual nails as the tension builds. It’s almost like stepping inside a horror movie. Each experience is $20 and runs about five minutes..

Hit the Water

Wet ‘n’ Wild has more than 25 rides and attractions to help guests of all ages cool down during the hot summer months. It was also the first water park in the world to introduce a virtual reality game called Slideboarding. Participants hop on a raft equipped with handles on each side, pressing one of four buttons to match the different color lights that pass by while shooting down a 300-foot slide. It’s a game of speed and coordination with dozens of difficulty levels to choose from. Sensors within the slide keep track of accuracy. Do well and you could end up on the digital scoreboard for everyone to see,.

The game is designed to draw kids outdoors who might otherwise be spending most of their time at home in front of video games. You can even practice before you get to the water park. Download the Slideboarding app to a phone or tablet and check out how the game works on an animated water slide.

Vegas Through Your Smartphone

Want to take a virtual tour of Las Vegas? Well, there’s an app for that. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority put together a smartphone app called Vegas VR that allows users to immerse themselves in 360-degree video simulations of iconic Vegas activities. Geared toward tourists and trade show attendees who are planning a Vegas visit, the app works best with Oculus Rift headsets, including versions that are sometimes offered for use by the LVCVA for promotional purposes.

The Vegas VR app itself is free and downloadable for for both iPhone and Android, but you still need a viewer. A less expensive way to take advantage of the immersive effect is by ordering a $15 cardboard viewing device from Google. Just hold it up to your eyes after placing your smartphone inside. You’ll instantly be taken to one of several available Las Vegas experiences, from riding a gondola at the Venetian to ziplining over Fremont Street and exploring Red Rock Canyon. You can even watch a performance of Mystere by Cirque du Soleil, take a tour of an Aria Sky Suite or see what it’s like to sit at a VIP table at Marquee Nightclub. Save up a few dollars and you can enjoy the real thing for yourself.

Tour Valuable Real Estate

We’re now entering a phase where virtual reality is more than fun. It’s a way to promote and expand business opportunities. One of the reasons ways Luxury Estates International has become the fastest growing upscale real estate brokerage in Las Vegas is by incorporating new technology into its marketing strategies. In addition to information, stats and photography, the company’s online listings often include a 3D Tour, designed to include several with 360-degree images of the property from all angles. Point-and-click your way around a computer screen and explore every corner of a luxury residence while looking up-and-down or left-and-right. It’s an easy way to see what the view looks like from a towering high-rise like the Mandarin Oriental or what it feels like to walk from the kitchen to the backyard swimming pool at a regal Summerlin estate.

The 3D Tours are an especially valuable tool for out-of-town buyers seeking property in Las Vegas. Luxury Estates International says with new wealth quickly developing in Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world, American real estate is an attractive option to international buyers seeking a reliable investment. With immersive online technology, prospective clients can get a realistic look at a property without having to spend time and money on a flight to check it out in person.

Get a Room

Virtual Reality doesn’t always have to exist on a video screen. Escape Room attractions have taken off in popularity by mixing simulated environments with a party game atmosphere. The concept is expanding with Escape Reality, which has seen international success but is now launching an American flagship location and corporate headquarters in Las Vegas at 5182 Arville Street. Like its competitors, Escape Reality is based on themed rooms where people are required to use props and solve riddles to discover clues and exit the locked room in 60 minutes or less. However, Escape Reality goes the extra mile with elaborate set designs. The room for an Alcatraz-themed game actually feels like a jail cell from floor to ceiling. Another game, “Down the Rabbit Hole,” borrows elements from Alice in Wonderland. You could be in the center of an enormous tree trunk... or another fantasy world altogether. Escape Reality plans to go even further into the world of virtual reality and is currently exploring ways to introduce Oculus Rift headsets into their interactive games.

Take a Swing

Have you paid a visit to Level Up at the MGM Grand? The new drinking spot mixes fun and games while the bartenders mix cocktails. In addition to familiar favorites like pool and foosball, you’ll find a giant Pac-Man screen and a jumbo-sized Jenga set to keep you busy. It’s also home to the very first Golfstream Suite, a private lounge area that allows you to practice your putt and test your driving skills within a cozy interactive environment.

The Golfsteam technology was developed by a team of NASA engineers (really) and uses a system of lights, lasers and video to simulate a virtual golf course. Games are designed for all skill levels, from a 30-second putting challenge to a “longest drive” competition. The suite can be reserved for parties of up to 10 people with your own private caddy and of course, plenty of food and drink.

Tournaments have even been introduced, taking the games a “level up,” with cash prizes at stake. As many as 50 players can compete in ongoing three-round competitions. With slot machines and other forms of gambling becoming more skill-based and interactive, the Golfstream Suite plays a welcome role in making Las Vegas a town based less on luck and more on reality.

So what’s next?

Keep your eyes peeled for One Hundred Monkeys, a new virtual reality attraction to be revealed downtown in pop-up form later this year. Founded by Jonathan Bricklin, the New York entrepreneur behind a trendy chain of ping pong clubs, One Hundred Monkeys will allow users to wear a virtual reality headset while strapped into a chair that turns and spins in every possible direction. If all goes well, the concept will be developed into a full-blown lounge geared toward adults, bachelor parties and corporate events. It will include a bar and a series of 3,000 square-foot rooms, each with its own theme. Think of it as an interactive park with your choice of fantasy worlds. It could be the beginning of virtual reality becoming a lot more real.

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