Virtual reality entrepreneur sees opportunity for jobs
Roller coasters, space travel, ping-pong toss, and Rhode Island have a lot in common. The connection? Nexperience’s virtual reality programs.
Virtual reality is a computer-simulated experience that can visually transport an individual to another real or imagined world.
Nexperience, which opened in the Warwick Mall Aug. 1, allows individuals to try their virtual reality systems using the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head set. By placing the Oculus Rift over the eyes with headphones, individuals are exposed to a separate reality from the one around them. The software costs only $7 and can be bought at the Nexperience Kiosk closer to the Target side in the mall.
The programs Nexperience has created are a roller coaster, a drive through space, a walk through Providence and Waterfire. Nexperience also, with the help of motion sensors, has allowed for gaming capabilities with their software; thus, the experience goes beyond a visual experience; a computerized reality that can be interacted with.
Tayla Manson tried out the roller coaster ride software. Her head moved from side to side and at one point her hands even flew up into the air.
She said, “This is absolutely amazing. Everything you see and hear, it’s exactly like really being on a real roller coaster; it even feels like it.”
Aaron James, Kevin Murphy and Eric Hall partnered together to begin Nexperience. They reached out to game development and simulation programming majors at New England Institute of Technology (NETECH).
Fifteen students participated in a four-week “hackathon” where they worked ceaselessly to design and produce virtual reality software.
This is the software you can try and buy at their kiosk.
James explained that many of the NETECH students have become part-time employees for Nexperience. The mall kiosk is to help the students have a job where they can put into practice all of their education while also helping fund the next step in their lives.
James said, “We wanted entrepreneurial students. They have basically employed themselves. They took it upon themselves to test and showcase their hard work. We have really talented students in this state.”
After the 38 Studios debacle, James said it will be a long time before any gaming or tech company wants to come to Rhode Island. Because of this, many of the talented students from NETECH James mentioned will have difficulty finding jobs in the area.
James said, “We want to restore hope and faith in Rhode Island and its tech community.”
Virtual reality is still a relatively new technology, but in the past few years it has begun to grow rapidly.
James said, “We all wanted to jump on the rising tide of virtual reality before it explodes.”
Nexperience is working with different companies sharing its technology. They have had discussions with NASA, whose virtual reality program has only two developers compared to Nexperience’s eight.
Virtual reality has many real uses beyond fun experiences and gaming. The software can help train first responders for natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other instances without any danger. They can visually see, hear and assess a scene without the cost of hiring people and renting places to do the training.
There is hope that virtual reality will also be able to better assist scientists handling robots in space.
There is also opportunity for virtual reality to soar in tourism. Travelers could explore their destinations and hotels before booking or leaving for their trip.
Virtual reality is just beginning to reach a consumer level and both James and his team believe virtual reality is about to take off.
James said, “We wanted to get into this business before it explodes hitting the consumer market. We could be the leading programmers.”
Nexperience is on the cusp of virtual reality technology and is sharing it with Rhode Island. They are looking to expand their business as well as their technology.
Nexperience is looking for help in expanding, the main reason they began selling their software, but they are also looking for donations.
For more information on Nexperience or to donate to their cause, visit their kiosk in the Warwick Mall or their Kickstarter fundraiser page on their website at www.Nexperience.technology. They also have a Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel.