Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim is merging the physical and digital worlds through virtual reality (VR) to create enhanced and more valuable experiences to its customers.
Majid Al Futtaim, which owns and operates shopping malls, retail and leisure establishments across 15 Middle East and North Africa countries, has opened Dreamscape Immersive’s first international location at Mall of the Emirates.
The US-based location-based VR entertainment company is backed by some of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters, including 21st Century Fox, WarnerMedia, Viacom, Steven Spielberg and Hans Zimmer.
Dreamscape’s first two locations are in Los Angeles and Dallas.
HTC had teamed up with Burj Khalifa to create a similar VR experience for “At The Top” last year.
Walter Parkes, producer, screenwriter and former head of DreamWorks Motion Pictures and currently the Co-founder and Chairman of Dreamscape Immersive, said that Dreamscape is all about “wish fulfilment”.
By merging the scope and emotional power of cinema with a theme-park ride by full-body tracking technology, he said: “We have created a way for audiences to enter into and become part of the story for the first time. These are experiences that you cannot replicate anywhere else.”
The Dreamscape has three original adventures - Alien Zoo, Curse of the Lost Pearl: A Magic Projector Adventure and The Blu: Deep Rescue.
Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer at Majid Al Futtaim - Holding, said that the future of the entertainment industry lies in the hands of those who can enable human interaction through fulfilling, meaningful and memorable experiences.
He said that technology allows us to do things that were not possible before and it is becoming much friendlier, easier to use and take us to places.
“We have to plan to develop local content with Dreamscape,” he said.
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Malls turn into experience centres
Each ride lasts around 12 minutes, with a few minutes to put on and take off the headset, haptic backpack, hand and foot tracking devices. It allows up to six people to simultaneously explore a virtual 3D environment, seeing fully rendered avatars of one another and interact with physical objects. Each ride costs AED75.
Khaled El Chidiac, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Ventures, told TechRadar Middle East that malls are turning into experience centres and people are looking to experiment and see new things.
“It is important for us to transform, bring new experiences and meet those needs of the customers. VR is one of them and it is something that combines cinema and storytelling and it is all through technology,” he said.
“We need more of that in the shopping malls. We try to incorporate technology such as AI, VR or AR as an enabler for our business to provide better customer experience. We are not after technology for the sake of technology but we see technology as a way to serve our customers better.
“We have already deployed AI into our business and we will be adding AR and VR into our offering to make the customers’ experiences better. We will take these emerging technologies into the markets we operate, outside of the UAE,” he said.