Deployment – Roam Wasn’t Built in a Day

As the Zero Latency deployment team flies out to deploy our 23rd Free Roam VR location, it has given me pause to look back at the journey we’ve been on over the last 2 years.

When I joined this company it was in that classic start-up phase, the exhilarating point when the product had been proven and the first clients were signing up. Beginning as a project manager I’ve led the deployment of new Zero Latency venues from number 4 right through the current deployment.

Zero Latency’s deployment team is made up of diverse professional backgrounds, united by the work and a focus on our goals. The culture and vibe of this team is crucial and has held us together through many 80 hour weeks, when days and time zones seem to blend into each other.

Driving an international project from Australia brings its challenges – the late night calls and the early morning starts. No one blinks at the hours. We’ve got one of those excellent and rare teams that just gets it done.

I believe it is this ‘back against the wall’ approach to our projects that has caused us to adapt becoming more efficient, polishing our processes and procedures. What was once a 42 day handcrafted deployment by Kyel Smith (co-founder & COO) is now performed in 5 days with 2 staff, followed by a week of retail training conducted by our training team.

Our dedicated Hardware and IT Build teams have continuously improved our methodology, documentation and processes, drastically reducing the time taken to manufacture and ship a new Zero Latency system.

There have certainly been bumps and dramas along the way. The deployment team has lived in casinos, slept in airports and eaten thanksgiving dinner by the side of a road. We’ve dodged hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes. Most importantly, we’ve learnt what works in location based entertainment.

What works for a Family Entertainment Centre might not work for a Casino, or in a shopping centre or in a theme park. Each country and each client brings their own set of challenges from logistics, installation and into retail operations. What culturally might work in Japan might not work in Portugal, the US or the Middle East.

The strength of this deployment team is that from learning and improving on the run we’ve built a flexible best practice that we bring to each and every Zero Latency deployment. Each new client benefits from what we’ve learnt from the sites that have come before. This has become the key contributor to our success. Many of our clients have become great friends and have honoured us by coming back and committing to a second, third or fourth Zero Latency system.

As our 22nd site prepares for opening in a few short days, we don’t have long to celebrate. We’ve got a lot of excited clients eager to open before Christmas, each one in a new country.

Ryan Hamlet
Head of Deployment

Your First Steps Into Location Based Virtual Reality

The LBVR landscape has exploded in the last 12 months. Back in 2015 when we here at Zero Latency coined the term Free Roam VR (FRVR), there was no one in the market but us. Here we are now in 2018. I look around and see a thriving industry with new companies pulling up a seat at the table, bringing fresh takes on how to commercialize VR as an LBE attraction. It’s an exciting time for the industry as we watch a thousand flowers bloom, and try to pick the ones that are here to stay.

Let’s take a look at the VR market and its segments.

VIVE Pods: Your basic offering, in varying levels of polish. Pods come with a bit of IT set up, which can be daunting for some; these aren’t your old school coin-ops. With an open mind and good onsite tech, Pods can be a great way to test the VR waters with your audience before you step up to a more advanced platform.

Room Scale Untethered: Built from off-the-shelf gear and covering about 25m2, these setups use wireless backpacks, allowing players to be untethered. Given the relatively small space, players won’t be moving much, if at all, which kills immersion. Not to be confused with Free Roam VR, these setups sacrifice experience quality in exchange for a smaller footprint. Bottom line: there are lots of moving parts and it is a pretty limited experience. You get the worst of both worlds, as in many ways this type of system brings the limitations of a Pod-based setup with all its complexities and combines it with wearables, tracking and low latency wireless needs.

Hyper Reality: In essence this is the VR progression of a standard theme park ride; short-run experiences with heavy investment in pre-show. It is similar to Room Scale Untethered systems in both setup and size, with the addition of props and 4D effects. These details help mitigate the limited movement by giving you surfaces to interact with, such as walls you can touch and doors you can open. There are some nifty implementations of Hyper Reality, with big budget IP and blockbuster production values. I’m interested to see how the business model plays out. Big fees to IP holders, heavy staffing needs and large costs to switch content are red flags for me, and are key reasons why Zero Latency steered away from this path early on. Hyper Reality is like a movie theater that requires ripping out all the seats to play a new movie, one that only a few people at a time can watch.

FRVR: Free Roam VR tricks the brain and gives you that heightened sense of presence, the feeling that you’re actually there, through the act of walking. Having more people there with you adds to this sense of immersion. The FRVR setup looks beyond the restrictions of small spaces and walls to larger, open spaces (200m2 / 2152 sq ft. on average). Our creative canvas allows for up to 8 simultaneous players, letting them explore a library of immersive content at the push of a button. An FRVR setup is both flexible and scalable. Add new experiences without the need to rip out or reinvest in your space; more space translates to a safer venue that’s easier to operate, while allowing creative reuse of the play area. Players feel like they’re exploring a basement, fighting through alleyways, crossing bridges and evacuating via helicopter.

Zero Latency is the only true FRVR provider in the market today.

Each operator has a different set of needs and ambitions. Zero Latency is proud to be the world’s leading expert on LBVR and happy to talk to you about your options and if FRVR is right for your business. We pride ourselves on a deep understanding of not only VR but also what drives great gameplay and social interaction. We’re committed to helping educate everyone about the wonderful opportunities it can bring to delight guests and keep raising the bar for entertainment experiences.