With the growth of VR technology we are moving from a 2D content world into rich, 3D, immersive experiences and brands are taking notice. We speak to Jonathan Nowak Delgado, Cofounder & Managing Director of Holodeck VR, a pioneer in location-based virtual reality experiences, on industry developments, brand collaborations and their exciting new partnership with ProSiebenSat.1.
Welcome! For the VR uninitiated: can you tell us a little bit about your product?
Holodeck VR technology offers exciting VR experiences where groups of up to 20 people all in VR headsets make their way through new virtual worlds and entertainment experiences like virtual lasertag and virtual haunted house. We are mainly location-based and our most popular locations are shopping malls and trampoline parks. Our experiences last only 4 to 10 minutes; but this is just the right length of time for someone new to VR. The experiences can also be booked for corporate or private parties. Entertainment is the main application, but Holodeck technology can be used for training and education also.
Shopping malls are really interested in VR at the moment. It is part of the movement known as Retailment, the mixture of retail and entertainment. Ecommerce is putting traditional shopping malls under considerable pressure - it is predicted 25% of US shopping malls will eventually need to close - so they are looking to offer something which the online retailer cannot. A Holodeck virtual experience offers just this.
What kind of audience does a VR experience like Holodeck attract?
Where VR once only attracted the tech nerds and early adopters, Holodeck is for the mainstream with a special focus on the new generation, kids & teenagers. We are looking to attract anyone that would go to the cinema, go shopping or bowling and our core target group is those aged between 6 and 18 years old. Many companies also take their employees to the Holodeck to spark disruptive ideas and start thinking think out of the box. What’s important to remember is that we offer great experiences on-demand, so that consumers do not have to own the VR tech at home. Essentially we are aiming for VR mass-market adoption. We are the iPhone moment in VR!
What options are there in VR, specifically in your product, for brands to advertise? What kind of brands would be interested in marketing or brand tie-ins with your product?
We have collaborated with many top brands on pop-up branded entertainment experiences. For example, Willi Bogner wanted to celebrate '80 years of Willi Bogner' at the ISPO trade fair so we launched a virtual St Moritz experience which took participants on an exciting journey through the mountains, and introduced Bogner products along the way of course. For the Deutsche Messe AG we presented a haunted house virtual reality experience for visitors as they entered the trade show and, with over 10,000 participants in four days, we succeeded in breaking a world record! We also collaborated with Deutsche Bank on a Pacman VR experience where instead of the Pacman chasing after gold coins they were rewarded for collecting coins with Deutsche Bank logos! This kind of branded entertainment is best suited for both innovation leaders as well as laggers in consumer and enterprise markets. Holodeck VR is a great tool for any brand looking to engage with customers in a physical space.
We are currently working on a feature which will allow our players to capture and share their experiences directly on social media. This would certainly be interesting for brands in the future.
We live in the Instagram age where experiences are king. How much do you think the group experience nature of your product has contributed to its success?
It is a huge factor. The first studies have been carried out looking at whether people prefer single-use or multi-player VR experiences. A clear majority (around 70%) found multi-player experiences most exciting. Any new medium lives from the social interaction – also VR. People are thrilled with the product and want to share the experience with their friends and family.
Congratulations on the deal with ProSiebenSat.1. What advantages will this bring for Holodeck?
It is so exciting because the deal gives us smart money and not just pure capital. There are essentially three core opportunities for us here. Firstly in VR content production. Secondly in distribution, through the Jochen Schweizer my days group, potentially placing Holodecks in leisure and activity parks. Thirdly through eSports and branded entertainment. We have the opportunity to broadcast TV show formats via VR, for example in eSports where two teams compete against each other.
We have 5 Holodeck installations right now and will open two new ones soon, one of them in the Jochen Schweizer Arena opening up on 1st September. We would love to see you there!