Virtual reality may be more closely associated with Silicon Valley than with Zealand. But with the world’s first VR store set to open in Copenhagen’s Kødbyen district, Denmark could be catapulted up the list of technological destinations.
The store, Khora, opens on Friday with the founder's aim of revolutionising gaming, teaching, architecture, film and art.
“Virtual reality creates unimaginable opportunities if you can apply the technology correctly. You can send school children underwater to study whales, nursing students to complicated births or architects into the buildings they have drawn,” Simon Lajboschitz said.
Virtual reality works through the user wearing glasses which are linked to a mobile phone or computer screen. The glasses send separate images to each eye to create the virtual reality world of the software,
Lajboschitz told The Local that 2016 is expected to be a big year for virtual reality, with Facebook-owned Oculus as well as Sony Playstation and HTC Vive all launching VR hardware for the first time.
In Copenhagen, shoppers will be able to wander straight in from the street and try out Khora’s technology – glasses that work with smartphones can be purchased for 100 kroner ($15, €13) or visitors can rent a 30 minute 'free play' period for 199 kroner and try out various virtual experiences.
Khora’s menu of in-store VR includes ‘Enter a Van Gogh Painting’, ‘Visit Mars’ and ‘Shoot Zombies.’ The company released its first virtual reality game, Cityscape Repairman, in December 2015.
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Lajboschitz told The Local that he sees the new store as a "technological ecosystem" where the potential for virtual reality in Denmark can be realised.
“The technology can be used for anything. You can be transported into a refugee camp and be shown around by a Syrian girl, or into someone’s living room,” he said.
“You can transport anywhere mentally on a microscopic or mechanical level – the opportunities are vast.”
The store will also include office space for VR startups and freelancers, as well as facilities for giving presentations to visiting schools and businesses – reflecting the potential for VR within both industry and education.
“Architecture companies can also contact us. It’s worth thinking about how this technology will be used in five or ten years. For example, driving lessons – in a few years’ time, many lessons will be given in VR,” said Lajboschitz.
While virtual reality shopping experiences have been around for awhile – South Korea opened a virtual supermarket in 2011 that allows shoppers to scan products with their smartphones and have them delivered – Lajboschitz said that Khora's Kødbyen store will be the first of its kind anywhere.
"This is almost the opposite of what they have in South Korea, where people shop in a virtual store. Here, we have a physical store that you can enter and then travel to different digital spaces. You can walk in off the street without knowing anything about VR and try out the different experiences," he said.