By Raiza Giorgi
Space VR in Solvang has been entertaining people of all ages for a year in “virtual worlds” that range from saving the planet to lying on the bottom of the ocean to watch whales swim by.
“Virtual reality is fun for any age level, and it really is fun. I had a few senior gentlemen come in and play golf, as their physical selves couldn’t get onto the green anymore. They come in regularly to enjoy a round,” said Jaime Baker, owner of Space VR.
Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that people can interact with in a physical, seemingly real, way by using special equipment. Customers wear headsets that transport them to any one of hundreds of worlds.
Celebrity chef Cat Cora came in recently with her children and Baker said he was amused to see she chose to work in a diner flipping burgers for her virtual reality experience.
“She said she wanted to see what it was like,” Baker laughed.
Baker opened the virtual reality space with his wife Devra and their three children across from the Vintage Motorcycle Museum on Alisal Road. As they celebrate the first anniversary of the business, they offer a wide variety of content from more than 600 games and experiences.
Baker said his children are the real brains behind the operation, and it is something they can all enjoy together.
“You get fascinated and frustrated all at the same time, and while our target demographic is kids, we are getting more groups like military and tech people in,” Baker said.
Customers can choose from 30 or 60 minutes of play time, during which their reality becomes whatever and wherever they want it to be. Because experiences are single or multi-player, customers can play alone or with friends.
Space VR is only one of a handful of these businesses in the country. However, since the late 1950s, virtual reality technology has been evolving with projects like the Super Cockpit, a flight simulator that projected 3D maps and imagery into real-time space, inspiring other inventions and leading to the development of the first VR headsets.
“It’s so neat because you can access Google Earth and go see your childhood home, or what is going on overseas, or pop into a shop down the road to see what they’re about,” Baker said.
Baker said they are expanding with coding classes and explorer packages for summer camp with the Buellton Recreation Department.
Many of the games allow players to enter an arena where they match skills against players all over the world. Despite the technology, many of the games are sports or require active movement. Not only does this improve hand-eye coordination, but it provides a real aerobic workout.
For more information, visit www.spacevrsolvang.com or call 805-325-9769. It’s best to make reservations, because space is limited.