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Friday, 22 March 2019 08:18 pm

Wellington Chocolate Factory virtual reality takes you to PNG

Lines of people crowded the Hannah’s parking lot on Saturday for a virtual reality chocolate experience through cartoon Papua New Guinea.

Tony St George, owner of Polytronik VR, and Gabe Davidson, co-owner of Wellington Chocolate Factory, debuted their VR “showcoaster” after two years of development.

After putting on an Oculus headset, users are taken on a guided tour through a cartoon Papua New Guinea chocolate farm run by little birds called the OooEee.

And they were handed a real chocolate at the end.

The people who lined up to try the experience were amazed at how immersed they were in the cartoon world.

Dan Crooks: “I loved it, the reality of it. It feels like you are really there.”

Seb Webster: “I felt like I was going to fall down the hills as I passed them.”

Madeleine Tuohy (6): “It felt like I was really on the island.”

Her mum Sarah had a contrasting experience: “It was cool but I could only handle it for a short time, I felt a bit nauseas”.

Davidson has further plans for VR at the chocolate factory such as a permanent setup for this showcoaster and potential advertising opportunities.

“We want to get the WCF logo printed on some cardboard VR goggles and hand them out at airports” Says Davidson

The cardboard goggles can then be used as a makeshift VR headset by inserting your phone into it.

People can then download the showcoaster onto their phone and view the experience wherever they are.

St George’s company Polytronik VR were early adopters of VR development, receiving their first Oculus Rift headset three years ago on its release.

“We are literally the only place in NZ that’s at the level with VR to create this content.” says St George.

He says the market for business usage of VR just does not exist yet but in a few years he’s hopeful that things will pick up.

The NZ Herald reported last week Apple is setting up an augmented reality based office in Wellington. reported New Zealand Fire Service produced an educational simulation last year that places you in the middle of a burning home and allows you to experience first-hand what a house fire is like.

Victoria University students are also studying VR and its uses.

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