Without dismissing in any way that we continue to face ongoing unprecedented health, social and economic challenges, for which I personally pray for healing and recovery, we are also beginning to see the pilot lights come back on across multiple sectors in the Location-Based Entertainment industry. When we entered the COVID-19 crisis that literally shut the doors to the LBE’s, I promised that VRstudios would hunker down and direct our energy to innovation with an eye to serving our customers and helping to accelerate recovery. We recognize and respect that our own path to recovery is completely dependent on the LBE’s being able to first restore their operations, I’d expect that all providers would acknowledge the same, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.
The core dependent factor driving the rate of recovery is regaining the TRUST and confidence of the end paying customer. Unfortunately, that seems to be left out of many conversations. It’s a complex issue that isn’t legal, legislative or political. It will take the sum total of all our efforts culminating in the customer gathering, socializing, interacting and entertaining, without feeling compromised in the environment. More specific to commercial VR attractions, we are being asked every day, “How will we know?”. The simple answer is, “When you put your face in it!”. Meaning, when each of us would comfortably strap on a VR headset, pick up controllers and play worry-free with a group of friends or family in a commercial facility.
FEC’s and amusement facilities across multiple sectors are already starting to test the waters in various ways around the country now, so I thought it timely to provide an update from VRstudios. We took on the challenge to prioritize our efforts on developing solutions that will help the recovery, focusing on three areas – Partnerships, Process and Products. We are starting to share progress now and there is much more to come that you will be hearing about over the next few months. Here’s a quick update to get started…
PARTNERSHIPS – We determined from the beginning that as it relates to health and safety, we will use our best effort to rely on facts, science and direct sources to inform any recommendations or resources that we publish. That includes researching all the government and health agency resources along with reaching out directly to our OEM suppliers for their guidelines and recommendations. We also are working on new service and reseller relationships that will put support resources closer to the LBE operation, and expect to have an announcement on that soon. Importantly, I hope everyone saw the exciting announcement last week from Cleanbox about our partnership, new data on the efficacy of their solution on the COVID-19 virus and our collaboration on a Best Practices Guide for the LBE industry.
PROCESS – In addition to the research and gathering of the latest data and information, it is important to put that into an actionable form that both makes it as easy as possible for the operator and highly visible to the customer. The operator visibly showing its accountability for the cleaning and sanitization of the equipment is important for the customer to have TRUST and confidence. To that end, in addition to the upcoming best practices guide, we are adding procedural checklists inside the operator panel of our Attraction Management Platform (AMP) that the attraction attendant uses to onboard players and launch the VR experience. For example, it can be set so that attraction won’t start until the attendant physically verifies the cleaning status of the equipment between each play. We continue to develop features for automation and integration with hygiene equipment reporting their status or triggering certain operations through AMP.
PRODUCT – This is big! As an exciting upside to the pandemic, the VRstudios team was challenged to use the time to reach deep into our roots of being a technology innovator and solution provider to come up with some extraordinary new ideas to help fuel a recovery, including things that might break the traditional mold. I’m super excited to report that we are doing just that with updates to our existing product portfolio and some amazing new things that have never been done before. Details will continue to unfold shortly, although hints are starting to leak out including Chanel Summers’ presentation last week at the AR/VR Global Summit. A series of announcements will follow where you can expect to see us amplify real-world sports and competitive experiences in VR, increased player engagement and profile management, expanded VR platform support and new system configurations that are flexible and manageable with current hygiene and social distancing guidelines in mind.
Kevin Vitale – June 8th, 2020
CEO and Chairman