The Walt Disney Company has announced participants in its 2017 incubator Disney Accelerator, a program intended for early and venture-backed tech startups working in media and entertainment. Among the 11 picked for the company’s 2017 Accelerator is location-based VR arcade The Void and Unreal Engine creator Epic Games.
Starting in 2014, Disney’s Accelerator backs around 10 companies each year, offering financial investment and a three-month mentorship with access to the co-working space at Disney’s creative campus in LA. Companies to come out of Disney’s Accelerator include the toy company Sphero, 360 streaming platform Littlstar, 360 video production studio Jaunt and modular electronics producer littleBits.
The Void is a location-based VR company that delivers a warehouse-scale experience unlike any other currently. Employing interactive sets, real-time effects, and backpack-mounted, tether-less VR headsets allowed for what Road to VR‘s Chris Madsen said ultimately helped him ‘achieve and maintain long moments of presence’ when he visited the Void in 2015.
…the sense of Presence built as I reached out to touch a stack of crates in front of me, the image becoming real as my hands were greeted with a real wooden surface. Intrigued by the merging of worlds, I dragged my hands across the surface, leaning my weight into it, and pulled myself up to peek over the ledge at the space beyond. The prop felt to be an exact match to what I was seeing through the lenses of the VR headset.
In a visit last year to The Void’s Ghostbusters: Dimension experience at Madame Tussaud’s in New York, Road to VR writer said the weight of the VR equipment didn’t distract him at all from his virtual surroundings—an old hotel room populated by a host of relatively benign pink ghosts.
The Void now operates four VR centers globally; at Madame Tussauds in New York, The Rec Room in Toronto, The Beach in Dubai, and their headquarters outside of Salt Lake City.
“As a veteran of the entertainment industry, I can say that the integrity, innovation, and magic of The Walt Disney Company is unparalleled. I’ve had the pleasure of working for Lucasfilm and ILM in the past, and my time there has greatly influenced my career. As we look back at all that we’ve accomplished in such a short time at THE VOID, and towards the future and the incredible potential to bring a new form of location-based entertainment to audiences across the globe, we know that the power of The Walt Disney Company will help us get there,” said The Void’s CEO Cliff Plumer.
While not strictly ‘VR news’, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine is one of the pillars of VR-capable game engines, and has been most recently an integral part in bringing ILMxLab’s Star Wars demo to life via Unreal Engine VR Editor. Its not certain exactly what Disney’s Accelerator will accomplish for Epic Games at this time however.
Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said, “Over the past few years, we’ve had great collaborations with The Walt Disney Company, contributing Unreal Engine technology to everything from theme park rides to Star Wars movies, and we look forward to participating in the Disney Accelerator.”