MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Did you know that NBC is streaming over 50 hours of Winter Olympics events live in virtual reality?
We invited the owner of Myrtle Beach’s only virtual reality arcade to show us how this new technology works, and how you can experience the thrill of the Olympics like never before.
Joe Collins owns and operates V-REX, a unique type of arcade that allows visitors to experience games, apps and video through virtual reality headsets and advanced 3-D positioning technology. His VR arcade had been up and running in Socastee for about 5 months, but he’s currently in the process of moving to a bigger location.
“Watching people interact with VR – really good VR – for the first time in their life is basically why I wanted to do this professionally,” Collins said. “You show it to friends, you show it family, and their minds are just blown. And what it does is, it really opens up a new world of possibilities for them.”
Anchor Eric Weisfeld virtually transported himself to Columbia through the Google Earth VR app, and saw a home he renovated years ago when he lived there.
Reporter Erin Edwards also got in on the fun, playing virtual table tennis:
Collins said that VR is becoming more mainstream every year, and that it is no longer just for hardcore gamers.
“A lot of people will not really be that interested in it because they don’t consider themselves a gamer,” Collins said. “But what I always try to emphasize is that it isn’t really games in the “sit on the couch and hit buttons” sort of sense, which is what most people think of when they play games. You stand in front of a screen and hit buttons. It’s so much more interactive. People really enjoy themselves, and they do something you could never really do in real life, like fly across the Earth.”
Collins said VR has applications not just in gaming and sports, but also fields like medicine.
“I’ve even heard of surgeons learning how to do surgery in VR. There’s safety videos where people learn to not put their hand in the lathe when they’re using it.”
And while VR is still in its infancy, Collins predicts in the future, everything will be viewed through the lens of virtual reality.
“But once the technology is shrinked down enough to basically just a pair of sunglasses, or even a pair of contact lenses once we really get futuristic, your entire world will be affected by VR,” Collins explained. “At that point they may call it something different. They may call it AR for augmented reality or MR for mixed reality. But either way, it’s going to be using the same technology. And what you have is the ability to project digital images anywhere in the world. You could have clothing that would change depending on the situation that you’re in. You could have billboards that are custom for the person that’s looking at it. Your partner standing next to you is going to see a different billboard than you do because they like fishing and you like sports. So it’s, I mean, the whole world is going to be affected by it.”
Using Collins’ Vive headset, Eric got to experience South Korean culture in a 360-degree video produced ahead of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
Starting with the opening ceremony at 8 p.m. on Friday, viewers will be able to experience the Winter Olympics in a new, unique way…live-streaming in VR. All you’ll need is a compatible Android or iOS device and the NBC Sports VR app.
You can use a Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, Windows Mixed Reality, or other mobile VR headset for the full VR experience. But if you don’t have a headset, you can still enjoy 360-degree and 180-degree video experiences just by downloading the app.
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