IMAX Teams Up With Google, Starbreeze to Bring VR to Theaters

The partnership will bring the VR experiences to select IMAX theaters and other locations to bring the technology to more people.

IMAX, Google, VR, virtual reality, Starbreeze

IMAX is partnering with Google and virtual-reality company Starbreeze to expand VR experiences to select IMAX theaters as well as shopping centers, tourist attractions and other locations.

The IMAX VR initiative was announced May 20 by IMAX as a partnership to launch the company more deeply into an immersive VR experience for its customers.

"IMAX is developing a fully integrated premium out-of-home VR experience, which encompasses camera capture, content distribution and delivery, to provide audiences with immersive, multi-dimensional experiences, including entertainment content and games," Andrew Stewart, an IMAX spokesman, said in a statement.

Google and Starbreeze, a Swedish-based independent creator, publisher and distributor of VR entertainment content and hardware, will work with IMAX to develop a cinema-grade IMAX VR camera that "will enable today's leading filmmakers and content developers to create and deliver the best-possible 3D 360-degree VR experiences," wrote Stewart.

Under the partnership, Starbreeze will help IMAX create location-based VR experiences using its StarVR headset technology. The Starbreeze headsets provide a 210-degree full peripheral "IMAX-like" field-of-view, which is more than twice that of other VR headsets sold today, according to the companies.

"IMAX also is looking to develop VR content with Hollywood filmmakers and studio partners, as well as to work with Starbreeze on leveraging its partnerships in the gaming industry," wrote Stewart. "Lionsgate and Starbreeze currently are developing a John Wick VR game."

Under the deal, the upcoming IMAX/Starbreeze/Google VR experiences will be offered in select multiplexes, shopping centers, tourist destinations and other commercial sites around the United States in the future.

Earlier in May, Acer announced that it will help design, build, market and promote the upcoming StarVR headset, along with Starbreeze Entertainment, for use in theme parks and the entertainment industry, under a joint-venture agreement between the two companies. The agreement focuses on developing the StarVR, a head-mounted display that Starbreeze has been planning for more than a year to bring VR experiences to a wide range of customers in dedicated VR entertainment facilities around the world, according to a recent eWEEK story.

Starbreeze has been showing early designs of the planned product at gaming events over the last year, since the company acquired the French company Infinite Eye, which originally created the StarVR HMD concept, according to Starbreeze, which acquired Infinite Eye's engineering team under that deal.

Starbreeze broadened its VR headset strategy in January when the company announced that it is also pursuing its StarCade initiative, which aims to create and build interactive virtual-reality entertainment centers where customers can go to immerse themselves into premium VR experiences.

Starbreeze first showed off its StarVR plans by demonstrating it at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June 2015, according to the company. The deal with Acer is pending completion and still requires approval by the boards of each company. No specifications or pricing information has yet been announced about the future StarVR headset.

The VR headset marketplace is continuing to grow with new entrants.

Samsung's $100 Gear VR headset, which went on sale last fall, allows users to view video games, movies and more in immersive new ways, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The Samsung Gear VR is a consumer version of virtual-reality headsets made by Oculus.

Sony's $399 PlayStation VR headset was announced in March and is slated for an October release to add virtual-reality game play to PlayStation entertainment systems.

In late March, Oculus began shipping its long-awaited $599 Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets to early buyers. In May, the company began offering a limited number of the devices in select Best Buy stores and online from Microsoft and Amazon. The Rift is equipped with dual active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) displays that are designed to provide users with incredible visual clarity as they explore virtual worlds with the device.

The Rift also uses an infrared LED constellation-tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking for users for accurate and fluid control and operation when playing games and simulations.