Virtual reality promises to upend digital life as we know it. Gaming, shopping, teleconferencing, education, actual human screwing -- in the next 10 years, VR is going to transform them all. (Heck, maybe even in just five.) First, though, it's trying to change one of our most basic entertainment experiences, namely, how we sit in a dark room and watch movies together.
When I heard the world's first permanent VR cinemas had opened in Amsterdam and Berlin, I was instantly curious. Would it be a lifelike, immersive experience in 360 degrees? Or are early adopters destined to be guinea pigs for a still-fledgling technology?
With VR cinemas set to open soon in London, Paris, Barcelona, and a few US IMAX locations, I went to the Berlin location to find out whether the future of moviegoing is already here.
It's still underground
Berlin's VR cinema is tucked inside an unlikely location: Germany's former state mint, now home to a famous photographer's studio and a nightclub that hosts art-porn parties.
For a venue destined to be a tourist attraction, the old factory itself wasn't touristy -- almost to a fault though, as if it weren't for the cinema's signs, I never would've found it through a courtyard, past dumpsters, and up a dark stairwell wrapped in flaking paint.