6 minute read

Feature Story: Roswell is Ready For the Megaverse


By Kevon Pryce

With the growth of virtual reality, entertainment, and technology, companies are looking for avenues to expand their reach in the space.

Exploring Digital, an Atlantabased startup, focuses on developing seamless and wireless location-based VR experiences. The entertainment company has launched the “Megaverse,” a virtual space tailored to the users' experience.

The 680 square foot space is referred to as the Megaverse Theatre and serves as a place where users can interact with up to six other users simultaneously; all virtually. The combination of a VR headset, hand controls, the ability to move freely in the space, and added sensory manipulation such as wind and vibration makes this space the first of its kind.

The Megaverse Theatre can also be described as an immersive 4D and mixed reality experience.

The Megaverse is located in Skyzone Trampoline Park in Roswell, Georgia, and Exploring Digital is looking to expand across multiple entertainment centers as well such as bowling alleys and movie theaters. With a select few games already available, expect more to be added to the catalog in the coming months.

The introduction of this space to Atlanta will allow not only an enjoyable experience but a means to test the limits of VR. Exploring Digital has also partnered with Emory Healthcare to provide healthcare professionals with VR and augmented reality training. This space is only the beginning for innovation here in Atlanta. Nick Muratore, Vice President of Operations, and Nathaniel Nuon, Chief Content Officer of Exploring Digital, wanted to share some insight on the future of virtual reality.

What exactly is Exploring Digital and how did the company get its start?

Nick Muratore: The founders, Dave Walens and Matt Kelly, both wrote a patent for a VR modular room that has haptics that can be configured for any space a few years ago. Back in 2021 they pursued getting funding to actually make the patent come to life, which is what we know now as the Megaverse. Throughout the process, we originally contracted out to Third Realm Creations to build our first set of games and through that partnership we were able to learn about the experience they had in the VR space and film production which resulted in the merging of us and Third Realm Creations. Now we categorize ourselves as a company that does many things, such as the Megaverse, curating VR experiences, film production, and more.

Oz: How is Exploring Digital involved with film production?

Nathaniel Nuon: LED Walls are becoming more common in film production. We’ve been doing LED wall stuff for quite some time now and we just acquired a new 60-foot wall that we’re putting up in a soundstage, so now we’re equipped to accommodate for some of the shows that Disney and Marvel have been shooting. Our next big project is going to be a film that we’ll be working on called Tug of War. A lot of the things we deal with on the VR side actually relate to things we deal with during virtual production when creating content and movies.

Oz: Seeing as VR is rapidly growing, what are some of your plans to expand VR accessibility in Georgia?

Nick Muratore: We have an office out in Mobil, Alabama, but the bulk of our business is done out of Georgia. We’re hoping to transform Cobb County into a VR hub, comparable to how Atlanta is to film. We like to be able to create VR content and experiences and have other companies who are a part of the same geography participate in these experiences as well. We also would like to get involved with some of the universities in Georgia such as UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, to name a few, as we’ve noticed their VR and creative media programs are expanding as well.

Oz: Where does the future of VR lie?

Nathaniel Nuon: As VR becomes more affordable, which we’re definitely reaching that point now, every home will have a VR headset in it. Many universities and schools are going to begin using them as tools to teach. As the graphics get more advanced and realistic, I believe that a lot of people aren’t going to realize that e-sports (gaming competitions) are going to be a lot more interesting. As a society I think it’s safe to say at some point we’re going to move into a space like the film Ready Player One. There’s going to be a huge merge between the entertainment industry, VR, and your day-to-day life. It’s not going to be solely for gaming anymore; we’ll get to the point where it’ll be used in everyday life. Whether people are joining spaces like Facebook’s Metaverse now or later, it won’t matter, because VR is inevitable; it’s like trying to stop the internet from happening.

Nick Muratore: We also hope to extend ourselves not only in the entertainment space, but also in the training space

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helping law enforcement, healthcare, and other professional industries. Here at Exploring Digital, we are striving to build our own virtual community.

Oz: What would some of those VR trainings look like?

Nick Muratore: We’ve worked with a few healthcare institutions, helping build training simulations. Both being all virtual and having a little physical interaction with certain devices. We’re trying to create another medium to train professionals to get experience in a virtual classroom setting. Not only is VR another tool for collaboration, but it’s a tool for convenience and being able to connect people who aren’t in the same physical space. There are studies that are now showing that students and trainees connect better with virtual content and training than they do with traditional e-learning, and sometimes even in-person.

Oz: With the expansion of VR and people spending more time in spaces like the Metaverse, how do you all feel this impacts people’s desire for physical and human interaction?

Nick Muratore: In a way it is human interaction. Right now during this Zoom call, we’re interacting. The interaction exists, it’s just a different medium. In virtual reality you have the opportunity to create another personality, an avatar, and how you want to be presented in a virtual medium. This will allow a lot of people a chance to create an image for themself that they wouldn’t have otherwise. In a way some people may look at this [VR] as it’s going to ruin human and physical interaction, but we’re under the impression that it’s going to increase it. There’s a lot of people out there [that], for a number of reasons, prefer virtual reality as a means for communication. We think it’s actually going to be healthy for a number of people.

Nathaniel Nuon: Now we’ll have the ability to interact on another level. Let’s say if I wanted to hand you a virtual pen, you can actually grab it from me, now making the interaction tactile. Things will get so advanced that you’ll be able to interact with somebody completely across the world in a virtual space that is so realistic to where you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between that and reality. VR is just another tool that humans have created to make content, express themselves, to interact, and to operate e-commerce. It’s here to help us connect on a completely different level.

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