A young Japanese couple experiences a dream Hawaii vacation. They start the day riding horses along a dusty mountain trail at Kualoa Ranch. Then they cruise down Kalakaua Avenue in a convertible, lounge on Waikiki Beach and end the day parasailing. They do all this 3,855 miles from Honolulu in a brightly lit, compact office in Tokyo. All they need is panoramic footage and an Oculus Rift, a headset that fits over users’ eyes, simulating their active presence in a real or imagined location.
Kai Kau sees unlimited potential with virtual-reality technology. He would know: Kau owns several VR headsets and, in 2012 founded VRCHIVE, pronounced “archive,” a free website in which users can upload and share panoramic photographs and images, and then view created or real locations with VR headsets. He says the site has more than 2,000 uploaded destinations, many of which are virtual creations. The Punahou grad recently moved to Silicon Valley to continue developing the website. VR is the next frontier for marketing, he says, “but only by the select few who do it right in the beginning.”