Los Angeles-based experiential entertainment company Two Bit Circus announced last week that they closed a $6.5 million Series A funding round led by Techstars Ventures and Foundry Group with participation from Intel Capital.
Founded by entrepreneur Brent Bushnell and roboticist and inventor Eric Gradman, Two Bit Circus has slowly been garnering excitement for what can only be described as a circus of the future. The company is known for their flagship STEAM Carnival, which through the use of technology elevates the traditional circus with interactive experiences and high-tech games — representing what a modern-day circus can look like.
Although Two Bit Circus is focused on using the new funding to expand the STEAM Carnival into a national brand and ramp up its business of renting out high-tech entertainment to conferences and events, one growing aspect of the business that is sometimes overlooked is their experimentation with virtual reality.
VRScout has covered some of the work that Two Bit Circus VR has executed on in the past with their activations for Verizon. Whether bringing football fans onto the field in VR at Verizon’s LA flagship store or racing around turns in an Indy Car, the company has some proven chops in bridging the gap of physical and virtual environments.
One experiment that we have been watching slowly evolve is the company’s VR syncing solution for multiple Gear VR headsets. We got a taste of their first Bluetooth enabled version at VRLA, but most recently covered the updated WiFi version of the syncing solution tested last month to a room full of moviegoers for a simultaneous group screening. The group screening film was played on over 20 Gear VR headsets that were wirelessly tethered together, syncing the viewing experience of each person.
With VR often times being an isolating experience, experiments like these can help make virtual reality more social. Two Bit Circus’ syncing technology is run off of a locally networked WiFi broadcast, operating on a high frequency, that gives the syncing system the ability to playback VR experiences with a more reliable connection and potentially “sync an unlimited number of Gear VR headsets,” according to Aaron Thomen, Lead Engineer at Two Bit Circus VR.
Not only does synchronized VR viewing make way for more social experiences like having an entire room react to the same moment in a film, the triggering system also helps solve some of the friction for event staff when starting VR demos with large groups.
Two Bit Circus in a way represents an innovation lab for event interaction. Even though the company will continue to experiment with virtual reality to help capture the imaginations of STEAM carnival goers, many of their VR innovations will be adapted to installations outside of STEAM and have the potential to shape the way many first-time VR users think about VR group experiences going forward.
Two Bit Circus will be demoing their multi-user sync experience at STEAM Carnival, kicking off in San Francisco at the 100,000 square foot Pier 48 November 6-8, 2015.
Image Credit: Two Bit Circus & VRScout
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