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Virtual Reality and Entertainment

The entertainment industry is one of the most enthusiastic advocates of virtual reality - and not just gaming and cinema.

The live entertainment industry is grabbing the virtual reality bull by the horns and creating experience that are truly out of this world.

Virtual reality concerts have allowed audiences to experience shows they may never be able to in their physical reality.

In June this year, Imagine Dragons had a concert of theirs broadcast in virtual reality - presented by Citi, Live Nation and NextVR.

Citi, Live Nation and NextVR last year announced that they planned to broadcast concerts in real time in virtual reality as part of their Backstage with Citi series.

Imagine Dragons’ show was the latest in a series that has included Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, Slash with Jimmy Vivino & the Basic Cable Band & Friends.

Other shows in the series include Third Eye Blind, Lady Antebellum and Prince Royce. All of the shows include backstage access and special footage. The Slash show, for instance, included extras with Slash touring the L.A. Zoo, interacting with reptiles and sharing his love for animal conservation where VR users could feel as if they were walking along with him.

Forget struggling to see over the top of someone's head and being crammed into a sweaty room - now you can experience all the thrills of a live concert without even leaving your living room.

Virtual museums and virtual reality at heritage sites have given the public a brand new way to interact with the exhibits and environment.

There has been a move away from the traditional type of experience associated with museums, galleries and visitor centres. No longer is it a passive activity in which people view the exhibits but do not get involved. VR turns the experience on it's head - now, interaction is the main feature.

Interactive displays form a large part of many exhibitions and particularly appeal to children. Children are often difficult to attract to a museum or gallery as they tend to see this as a boring experience. But the use of interactive technologies such as virtual reality has changed that perception and opened up these spaces to a new audience.

Examples of virtual heritage sites include monuments, galleries, famous landmarks such as Stonehenge, sculptures, caves, historical buildings, archaeological digs, old towns and villages. Virtual reality has been used to construct virtual walkthroughs of these sites which enhances the visitor’s experience.

Virtual reality has proved the perfect tool to challenge attitude towards heritage sites and museums, in order to encourage visitors to get involved and take an active interest in the sites.

Similarly, discovery centres have added extra layers of discovery to their already interactive exhibits with the introduction of virtual reality.

Attractions have made perfect use of VR to further the excitement and exhilaration they provide. The Void is a virtual reality theme park in Utah that has attractions where, by using virtual reality, AR and customized mechanical rooms, an illusion of tangible reality is created by the use of multiple senses.

Since 2015, virtual reality has been installed onto a number of roller coasters and theme parks, including Galactica at Alton Towers, The New Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Alpenexpress at Europapark, amongst others.

The sporting world is also making full use of the rise of virtual reality. In 2016, two announcements were made for broadcast of sporting events in VR. Agon announced that the upcoming World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin would be the first in any sport to be broadcast in 360-degree virtual reality.

This title was taken by Fox Sports' Fox Sports VR, a series of virtual reality broadcasts consisting mainly of Fox College Football broadcasts.

The telecasts were made available through smartphone apps and head-mounted displays, through a TV Everywhere paywall. The first VR telecast that took place featured Oklahoma hosting Ohio State.

Virtual reality has even taken the world of theatre by storm. London's National Theatre has created a virtual reality studio for new projects. NT hopes new technology and immersive filming styles will become ‘a pioneer of dramatic storytelling’.

This year in the foyer of Home in Manchester, theatre-goers experienced My Name Is Peter Stillman, a virtual-reality companion piece to 59 Productions’ adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass playing in the main theatre space.

It’s a fascinating little work that takes place in one room that participants can explore as the character moves in strange ways in front of your very eyes.