Virtual reality for the masses: Atari founder launches Modal VR platform

Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s founder Nolan Bushnell has launched Modal VR, an enterprise-oriented virtual reality platform that “can track multiple users in areas up to 900,000 square feet per instance.”

Modal VR technology is powered by the company’s proprietary VR Fabricator unit, which can track user positioning and interactivity among large groups of players with less than 10 milliseconds of latency.

Distancing itself from the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and other VR headsets that are tethered to user PCs via multiple sets of cables, Modal VR offers a wireless solution that allows VR participants to freely roam a large virtual reality staging area with little in the way of movement restrictions. While a single Modal VR Fabricator unit can track up to 10 players at once, multiple fabricators can be networked via LAN or WAN, adding dozens more players to the mix.

After setting up one or more VR Fabricator units and establishing a play area, Modal VR users must don a wireless visor to participate in large-scale virtual reality games with others. To get the most out of the experience, players can buy an optional full-body tracking suit that “enables real-time body articulation (including hands) with superfast and extremely accurate tracking,” according to Modal VR’s website.

Modal VR settings can be tweaked via the PC-compatible Modal VR Command Center app, which also grants quick access to a suite of downloadable VR games and applications.

The platform’s creators showcase its potential in the trailer above, which features the one-on-one virtual reality fighting game Mythic Combat. Similar to the arcade classic Discs of Tron, Mythic Combat allows players to shoot beams of energy from their hands using body movements and gestures, while opponents can dodge, deflect, and counterattack using similar motions.

Be warned, however: if you’re looking to buy a Modal VR setup of your very own, don’t expect a price point that matches current consumer-oriented VR headsets. Modal VR itself admits that the technology is designed exclusively for enterprise and industrial use, and notes that its hardware is prohibitively expensive for individual users.

“Modal VR for home use is likely cost-prohibitive and would require slightly more technical know-how than a typical consumer electronic device,” the company states at the top of its online FAQ. “We are focused on enterprise applications and typically only sell to other companies.”

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