IMAX is opening virtual reality cinemas

Barack obama virtual realityAlexander Koerner/Getty ImagesBarack Obama: Virtual reality fan.

IMAX is getting into the virtual reality business.

On Thursday, the company announced that it is teaming up with Google to build cinema-quality virtual reality video cameras.

It is also planning to launch virtual reality “locations,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

The cinemas — if you can call them that — will be opened in shopping malls, much like traditional movie theatres. There are six reportedly planned for this year, including in Los Angeles and China.

It’s not clear what the appeal of going out to experience virtual reality is when its express purpose is cutting you off from the world around you. But IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond argues its about the social aspect.

“Virtual reality in the home is going to be a crowded space,” he said, “but we thought the idea of doing VR in the multiplex of the future was a place where we can provide a superior experience and a social experience, which are the same reasons people go to movies.”

Meanwhile, IMAX’s virtual reality cameras are aiming for a release in 18 months.

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