Laser robot system reduces remote welding time

Technology has uses in welding thin sheets and dissimilar materials

High-power and high-beam-quality solid-state lasers, such as the thin-disk laser and fiber laser, have made laser welding popular in manufacturing industries. More recently, kilowatt direct-diode lasers have become commercially available with beam quality competitive to thin-disk or fiber lasers because of a laser beam combining method called wavelength beam combining, by which beam quality can be maintained without deterioration when power scaling. Replacing CO2lasers, these solid-state lasers are becoming the main players in the field of remote laser welding.

Remote laser welding (RLW) is characterized by a long focal length and a fast-moving laser spot on a workpiece, generally by a pair of mirrors called a scanner. The weight of the scanner is said to be over 30kg, making it necessary to use a heavy load robot. This article reports a newly developed Laser Processing Robot Integrated System Solution (LAPRISS) with a compact laser welding head for RLW, and shows several applications.

LAPRISS technology

FIGURE 1 shows the main components and connection of this system, including a 4kW direct-diode laser scaled by wavelength beam-combining technology and a newly designed trepanning type of laser welding head mounted directly on a robot manipulator. Robot motion and laser oscillation, including its power and irradiated laser pattern on the workpiece, are controlled by a robot controller.

FIGURE 1. The main components and connection of the LAPRISS system are shown.
FIGURE 1. The main components and connection of the LAPRISS system are shown.

In the laser welding head, two parallel optical plates are driven independently by two servo motors to change the optical paths and form different types of irradiated laser patterns on a workpiece. The laser welding head is designed to weigh less than 5kg, making it possible to be carried with a light load robot.

Decreasing cycle time

Cycle times by RSW and LAPRISS were evaluated on 0.8mm-thick mild steel, with the nugget diameters of RSW and the circle diameter in LAPRISS both set to 4mm. FIGURE 2 shows welding times of each action and tensile shearing test results, where the average times for welding are 2.85 and 0.675 sec in RSW and LAPRISS, respectively, and the cycle time of LAPRISS is one-quarter that of RSW.

FIGURE 3. Cycle times (a, b) and tensile shearing (c) test results of lap joints by RSW and LAPRISS are compared.
FIGURE 2. Cycle times (a, b) and tensile shearing (c) test results of lap joints by RSW and LAPRISS are compared.

Assuming, for example, that the total number of welding spots in a car body is 3500–7000, total welding time could be reduced from 10,000–20,000 sec to 2400–4800 sec. There are no differences in tensile shearing strength between RSW and LAPRISS—both of the joints fractured in the base metal near the heat-affected zone (HAZ).

Increasing weld gap tolerances

When using laser welding in thin sheet applications like automotive manufacturing, many parts are produced by shearing or press. So, increasing the gap tolerance becomes important, especially when joining high-strength steel parts because of their large spring-back during the press process.

One method to compensate for wide-gap weld tolerance is spiral-scanning the laser beam on a workpiece from one point and then scanning it to draw a circle, with the circle diameter increasing gradually. During spiral scanning welding, the robot stops at one point and after finishing one weld, the robot moves to another point.

FIGURE 3 shows welding results with circle scanning and spiral scanning. In the case of circle scanning, burn-through occurred because of the shortage of molten metal. The maximum gap tolerance was only 0.3mm. On the other hand, the maximum gap tolerance of spiral scanning welding reached 0.5mm. Spiral scanning welding is useful in replacing RSW because the cycle time can be reduced by 25%.

FIGURE 4. A comparison of joints by circular and spiral scanning welding.
FIGURE 3. A comparison of joints by circular and spiral scanning welding.

Spin scanning welding

This method involves irradiating a laser beam on a workpiece and then scanning it to draw a circle with a same diameter during robot motion. The irradiated laser track on a workpiece resembles a projection of spring on a plane. The size of the molten pool is determined by the scanning circle diameter by changing this circle size, so many weld beads with different widths can be obtained.

Spin scanning welding was evaluated in a butt joint with 0.8-mm-thick mild steel. The laser spot on the workpiece was set to the contact surfaces of two plates, or with an offset of 0.2mm perpendicular to the welding direction.

FIGURE 4 shows welding conditions and test results. When a pre-gap is 0mm, the permitted offset was only 0.2mm by conventional laser welding (line), but it could be increased up to 0.5mm with spin scanning welding. When a pre-gap increases to 0.2mm, the permitted offset was 0.9mm by spin scanning welding, which is nearly 9X that of conventional laser welding (0.1mm). Spin scanning welding is useful in replacing arc welding, and the weld speed can be increased by 2–3X.

FIGURE 5. Joints by conventional laser welding (line) and spin scanning welding are shown.
FIGURE 4. Joints by conventional laser welding (line) and spin scanning welding are shown.

Prospective future applications

In addition to welding thin metal sheets, LAPRISS can also be used for joining dissimilar materials to produce a lightweight structure design, for example, in the automotive industry. A laser rivet process is proposed to replace conventional thermal joining processes, where the main problem is the formation of intermetallic phases from different alloy elements.

FIGURE 6. A laser rivet process can join steel to aluminum, resin, or CFRP.
FIGURE 5. A laser rivet process can join steel to aluminum, resin, or CFRP.

FIGURE 5 shows the principle of the laser rivet and a sample for joining steel to aluminum, generally considered difficult or impossible by conventional thermal processes. This laser rivet process may also be useful for joining steel and other non-metal materials like resin and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).


Source: Industrial Laser Solutions Magazine




Chinese, South Korean, Indian apparel makers landing in Ethiopia

Young, low-wage labor attracting garment companies from around world


Ethiopia is fast developing into a dynamic apparel-sourcing hub as low labor costs lure international clothing makers to the African nation.

Manufacturers from China, South Korea, India and other countries have opened new plants in the continent’s second most populous nation while a growing number of European and U.S. brands are sourcing garments there.

A significant factor in Ethiopia’s emergence on the clothing scene is the planned opening of a new railway line to a port in neighboring Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa in the Arabian Sea. The railway will facilitate transport of goods from the landlocked country’s industrial areas, like the Bole Lemi Industrial Park, an hour’s drive from the capital Addis Ababa.


Opened in 2015, the sprawling 150-hectare park is bustling with Chinese, Taiwanese and South Korean production facilities, conveniently clustering factories for textiles, apparel products and leather shoes in one area.

At a factory operated by Shin Textile Solutions, a South Korean company, workers sit at long rows of machines sewing mainly sportswear. According to the general manager, the plant’s entire output is exported, with about 60% going to Europe, 20% to the U.S. and the remainder to Asia.

Japan’s Fast Retailing, which manufacturers and sells casual clothes under the Uniqlo brand, is among the many apparel makers that has shown interest in the plant, the manager said.

Drive to industrialize

Ethiopia’s main exports currently include coffee, gold and leather products, but the government is stepping up efforts to develop new industries. Arkebe Oqubay, special adviser to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, has pledged to transform Ethiopia from a farm economy into an industrial powerhouse.

As part of its efforts to turn the country into an thriving, middle-income economy by 2025, the government has been building industrial parks. The newest is Hawassa Industrial Park, a one-hour flight from the capital. Among the 15 companies with manufacturing facilities there is PVH, a U.S. apparel company.

PVH’s 280 employees produce garments for a number of international brands including Calvin Klein, then exports them to Europe and the U.S.

Ethiopia’s low labor costs make it an attractive garment-sourcing destination, according to the company. The average monthly pay for a factory worker is about $50, compared with $140-160 in Kenya, $70-90 in Bangladesh, $150-170 in Vietnam and $400-500 in China.

With a population hovering around 100 million, Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa after Nigeria. The country’s young, low-wage workforce gives it the potential to grow into a major garment-sourcing hub with a vibrant market.

Another factor in favor of the country becoming a bigger manufacturer is its fast-developing infrastructure. The inland nation used to depend heavily on trucking, hindering its transition to a more export-oriented economy. But the new railway connecting Addis Ababa to Djibouti will solve this problem.

The government has built a distribution center in the Addis Ababa suburb of Mojo, where there is also a train station on the new line. Goods from Ethiopia’s industrial parks will be sent to the Port of Djibouti via the center.

Previously, it took three days to transport goods by truck from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. The railway will cut this to about nine hours.

Attracting more business

Currently, companies targeting Ethiopia are mostly apparel makers and other light industry players. But General Electric plans to manufacture medical equipment in the country, and Samsung Electronics is working with a local partner to produce printers.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor reached an agreement with a local company in May regarding construction of a plant to assemble commercial vehicles.

China has also been a leading investor in Ethiopia, as in other parts of Africa. The Ethiopian prime minister attended the May international conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Beijing, during which he delivered a speech as the African representative.

The inclusion of Ethiopia at the conference indicates the importance China places on the country as a key regional transportation and production hub.


Source: Nikkei Asian Review

Car manufacturers lobby China on EVs

Car manufacturers’ trade associations have asked the China government to relax some of its EV regulations.


The request has come from the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).

China says it wants one fifth of all cars sold in China to be electric or hybrid by 2025 and is giving subsidies to local EV manufacturers which are not given to foreign manufacturers.

China is also looking at introducing quotas on foreign car manufacturers from 2018 and, if quotas are not met it is considering banning foreign car manufacturers from importing internal combustion engine cars into China or making non-EV cars in China.

“The proposed rules’ ambitious enforcement date is not possible to meet, and if unchanged would lead to a widespread disruption of the product portfolio of most automakers operating in China. At a minimum, the mandate needs to be delayed a year and include additional flexibilities,” say the trade associations.

The trade associations are asking for equal treatment for subsidies between local snd foreign car manufacturers.

“This preference for domestic automakers over import automakers undermines the environmental goals of the regulation, puts imports at a competitive disadvantage, and risks opening China up to international trade disputes,” the letter said.

China is prioritising EV promotion because of pollution and because it wants to drive down the cost of local EV manufacturing in the hope of giving local manufacturers a competitive edge over foreign EV manufacturers.

It is estimated by McKinsey that 43% of the 870,000 electric cars produced in the world in 2016 came from China with Germany making 23% and the USA making 17%.


Source: Electronics Weekly

iPhone 8 expected price in different countries around the world

As the release of the iPhone 8 grows closer, the iPhone 8 price in countries across the world becomes an increasingly interesting topic of conversation. So here ValueWalk examines the iPhone 8 price in some of the key markets for Apple. It should be noted that all of the prices included in this article have been estimated by looking at past pricing and new features that Apple will include. There are certainly no guarantees at this early juncture.


United States

There is obviously no doubt whatsoever that the key market for Apple is the United States, and so the iPhone 8 price in the US is of critical importance. It is the recommended retail price in the United States that essentially drives the worldwide market, and thus it will be intriguing to see how the smartphone is floated in North America.

Firstly, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich believes that the 64GB model of the iPhone 8 could cost $850, and the premium 256GB version will be the first iPhone to cost four figures at $1,000. This $1,000 figure has since been widely quoted by industry analysts, with many suggesting that the most expensive version of the iPhone 8 will cost approximately $1,099.

This figure had been quoted with such regularity it seemed rather set in stone. But reports have emerged recently which suggest that major carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile could offer discounts, meaning that the price of the iPhone 8 will be significantly less than $1,000 for consumers. This opinion certainly makes sense, and it would be a good retail strategy for Apple, quite obviously.

However, the writer and blogger John Gruber has suggested that the price for the iPhone 8 could be around $1,200, even for entry-level units. Supply and demand issues will drive this pricing structure, as Gruber explained.

“It sounds to me like the OLED iPhone is a phone which Apple can’t make 40 million of per quarter, at least not today. And if that’s true, that means it should be more expensive. Not should in any moral sense, but simply because that’s how the principle of supply and demand works. When supply is constrained and demand is high, prices go higher. The higher prices alleviate demand,” Gruber commented on his podcast.

So what we can conclude about the iPhone 8 price in the United States is that it will be in excess of $1,000, and possibly quite significantly in excess of this figure.

United Kingdom

As British consumers will be only too aware, the price of consumer electronics in the UK is often significantly more expensive than the United States. Indeed, despite the fact that the dollar has been less valuable than sterling for a considerable period of time, the prices in the US dollar market for consumer electronics items often translate directly to Sterling equivalents.

This would mean that the iPhone 8 price in the UK could be as much as £1,200, and at least £1,000. However, this would seem to be a little too hefty even for a company with the brand and market penetration of Apple. So perhaps a more realistic price point for the British market could be £950.


The price of the iPhone 8 in Pakistan is dependent on a significantly more volatile market than the United States or other western countries. Currently, $1,000 translates to 105,220 Pakistani Rupee. So we can reasonably expect the iPhone 8 to retail in this ballpark in Pakistan.


The Canadian dollar has been somewhat weaker than the United States currency for some time, meaning that the exchange rate is currently in favour of the world’s reserve currency. An iPhone 8 price in the United States of $1,000 would currently translate to a Canadian price tag of around $1,270.

However, in common with the United Kingdom, we can expect to see a small markup on the price tag in Canada, meaning that the iPhone 8 could retail at around $1,300 in this North American nation.


The iPhone 8 price in Australia is difficult to predict. Australia is certainly western in nature, but the distance between the country and Apple’s primary marketplaces mean that the RRP of the smartphone could diverge significantly. The current exchange rate for $1,000 translates to 1283 Australian dollars, but we could easily see this figure exceeded when the iPhone 8 launches. Perhaps a more reasonable estimate for this territory would be around AU$1400.


Of all Asian subcontinental nations, India is undoubtedly the most important and advanced economically. Considering the vast one-billion population in the country, the iPhone 8 price in India is of particular importance to Apple. $1,000 in the United States currently translates to 64,309.20 Indian Rupee, but again the volatility of the Indian market it may mean that the price is significantly higher than this.

Some sources have suggested that the iPhone 8 Price in India will instead be around rs.70,000.


The enthusiasm that the Japanese have for all forms of electronics and technology means that the country is a key smartphone marketplace. Currently, $1,000 translates to 112,400.00 Japanese Yen in Japan, indicating another massive exchange rate. However, Japanese consumers are accustomed to obtaining excellent deals for consumer electronics paraphernalia, and thus we can reasonably expect the iPhone 8 to retail at around this 112,000 Yen figure in Japan.


Finally, the world’s most populous nation, and now its largest economy, is undoubtedly a critical region for any consumer product. Apple has based its growth in recent years on significant market penetration into China, and will thus value the East Asian nation extremely highly in the iPhone 8 generation.

With numerous iPhone 8 mock-ups already available in China, we can expect an affordable price point for the Chinese marketplace. Therefore, the iPhone 8 price in China may be around 6750 Yuan.

Regardless of the unit price, the fact that the tenth generation iPhone 8 is expected to deliver a wide variety of new features in order to acknowledge this landmark should be enough to guarantee excellent sales worldwide.


Source: ValueWalk

What is Laser Welding?

Laser beam welding is a technique in manufacturing whereby two or more pieces of material (usually metal) are joined by together through the use of a laser beam. Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is a non-contact process that requires access to the weld zone from one side of the parts being welded.

The weld is formed as the intense laser light rapidly heats the material – typically calculated in Milliseconds.

The laser beam is a coherent (single phase) light of a single wavelength (monochromatic). The laser beam has low beam divergence and high energy content and thus will create heat when it strikes a surface.

Lasers are used for materials that are difficult to weld using other methods, for hard to access areas and for extremely small components. Inert gas shielding is needed for more reactive materials.

2017-07-07_103710.jpgTaiwan MAY SHUAY specializes in manufacturing and marketing of high efficient and labor-saving turn-key automatic welding equipment. Our variety and complete line of welding machines offer customers a one-stop shopping selection.

Our Laser welder is specifically designed for high-speed seam laser in widely welding applications. It can provide high peak power and raise welding quality to meet operators’ requirement. For more detail, please visit our website or contact us directly.

Source: The Weld Guru

German machine tool makers triple growth forecast


The industry body for Germany’s powerful machine tool sector on Thursday tripled its growth forecast for 2017, saying stronger than expected demand at home and abroad was boosting production.

Based on strong growth in production so far this year, the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) lifted its growth forecast from 1.0 to 3.0 percent for the full 12 months.

“The mood among firms is markedly good. Everything is in place for a new upturn,” said VDMA chief economist Ralph Wiechers in a statement.

Machine tool makers — making up Germany’s second-largest industrial sector after carmakers — booked 2.3 percent growth in production between January and April compared with the same period in 2016.

The VDMA pointed to “significantly stronger than expected” demand from eurozone neighbours, prospects for stronger growth at home in Germany as industrial firms grow more confident, and better-than-forecast business with customers in Asia, especially China.

Machine tool exports from Germany to China grew by 15 percent year-on-year in the first four months of the year, the organisation said.

But the VDMA also highlighted risks for Europe’s export powerhouse on the horizon from “current events in important customer countries” the United States and Britain.

US President Donald Trump has set his sights on Germany’s mammoth trade surplus, threatening punitive tariffs, while Britain’s departure from the European Union could throw up further barriers to trade.

Source: Yahoo News UK

Nestle Plans $21 Billion Share Buyback As Activist Loeb Digs In

CEO Officer Mark Schneider is reversing Nestle’s policy on buybacks just days after being urged to do so by Dan Loeb’s hedge fund which bought a stake in the company.


Nestle SA  (IW 1000/30) announced a 20 billion-franc (US$21 billion) share buyback program, in its first strategic move after Dan Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point bought a stake and urged the Swiss food company to shake up its “staid culture.”

Nestle will start repurchasing shares July 4 and the program will run through 2020, the Vevey, Switzerland-based maker of Gerber baby food and DiGiorno pizza said on June 27.  The company said it expects a net debt to EBITA ratio of about 1.5 in 2020.

CEO Officer Mark Schneider is reversing Nestle’s policy on buybacks just days after being urged to do so by Third Point. The food maker hasn’t had a repurchase program since 2014, and Schneider said in February in his first public appearance as CEO that buying back stock is a lower priority than reinvesting in Nestle’s business and paying dividends.

The Swiss company’s reaction echoes the strategy shift Unilever announced in April after Kraft Heinz Co.’s failed takeover bid. The Anglo-Dutch company said it would buy back 5 billion euros (US$5.7 billion) of stock and divest its spreads business as the unsolicited $143 billion offer led CEO Paul Polman to pledge better shareholder returns.

In addition to recommending a buyback, Loeb urged Nestle to sell its 23% stake in cosmetics maker L’Oreal SA, eject underperforming brands and take on more debt.

Nestle was the weakest performer among six of Europe’s biggest consumer-goods stocks including Unilever and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV in the previous three years.Third Point said when announcing the purchase.

The company’s 2016 sales growth fell to the slowest pace in at least a decade amid sluggish demand and Schneider abandoned Nestle’s long-standing revenue target two months after becoming CEO.



China’s Biggest Aluminum Producer to Cut Outdated Capacity

China’s total smelting capacity last year was about 40 million tons.


China Hongqiao Group Ltd., the nation’s biggest aluminum smelter, is curtailing outdated capacity amid a broader crackdown by the government on illegal production. Shares of aluminum makers gained in China.

The company, the main aluminum arm of Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group Co., declined to give the scale or timing of the reduction in an emailed statement. Two people with knowledge of the situation said Weiqiao’s aluminum business started cutting 250,000 metric tons of annual capacity from Tuesday, declining to be identified as the information is private. A Weiqiao spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.

China, the world’s top producer of the lightweight metal, has stepped up efforts this year to prune capacity to reduce excess supply. Its top economic planning agency issued an order in April for local governments to halt smelters that violate environmental guidelines, while a plan earlier in the year called for capacity to be shuttered during the peak pollution season over the winter. China’s total smelting capacity last year was about 40 million tons.

Hongqiao’s move shows its commitment to the government’s directive and gives the market confidence that China’s capacity curbs are actually happening, Liu Xiaolei, an analyst with SMM Information & Technology Co., said by phone from Shanghai.

SMM reported Monday that Xinjiang province, China’s second largest production hub after Shandong, is beginning environmental checks on smelters this week.

China’s commitment to cutting capacity is the big unknown in the aluminum market, the top executive at at Norsk Hydro ASA, Europe’s third largest producer, said in an interview last week. Aluminum on the London Metal Exchange has outperformed other metals this year on the prospect of Chinese cuts, advancing 12%. It rose 0.3% to $1,892 a ton on Wednesday.

Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the nation’s second largest smelter, advanced as much as 2.2% in Shanghai to the highest level in seven weeks. Yunnan Aluminum Co. surged as much as 4.4%.

“We estimate that 3.1 million tons, or 8% of total operating capacity, is without proper approvals, hence we expect more production cuts in the coming months,” Jack Shang, an analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Asia, said in an emailed note. “Winter production suspensions in North China should help further tighten the aluminum market in China.”



Taiwan promotes defense tech at Paris Air Show


Taiwan is showcasing its domestically developed defense, aerospace and smart machinery technologies and products and exploring opportunities for cooperation at the 2017 Paris Air Show at Paris-Le Bourget Airport being held June 19-25.

A number of Taiwanese organizations and companies are showcasing their technologies and products at the show, including the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CIST), the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. and the Industrial Technology Research Institute, while several machine tool companies are displaying their products at a Taiwan machine tool pavilion.

Taiwan External Trade Development Council Vice Chairman Kuo Lin-wu (郭臨伍) said Tuesday at a press conference in Paris that this is the first time Taiwan has set up such a pavilion at the fair, with the aim of promoting Taiwanese precision machine tools and spare parts for aerospace applications.

Taiwan’s machine tool products enjoy great popularity in the world market due to their quality, particularly smart aerospace machinery.

Through the pavilion, Taiwan wants to show the world its competitiveness in developing smart machinery and promote its contributions to the aerospace industry, Kuo said.

Meanwhile, in view of the increasing demand for defense systems against potential terrorist attacks following the terrorist attack in Paris in April, the CIST is showcasing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) defense and deterrent system that can be used for airport and border security.

Also on display are a CIST counter-improvised explosive device system and the Tuo Jiang — Taiwan’s first locally built stealth missile corvette — as well as the Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missile and the Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile, both of which have been deployed by the navy.

Other items on display are infrared equipment and radar and observation systems, as well as electro-optical products, according to the institute.

The air show, which is believed to be the largest and most influential of its kind in the world, attracts exhibitors from over 2,400 companies and some 375,000 visitors this year.


Source: Focus Taiwan News

This is what the future of gaming looks like


For Zero Latency, a Melbourne-based virtual reality gaming company that’s in the process of helping launch 2,000- to 4,000-square-foot gaming “arenas” around the world, the formula is pretty straightforward.

The power of VR, explains Zero Latency head of global business development Bob Cooney, is the immersion it makes possible. “And the ultimate immersion,” he continues, “is in these big spaces where you get long experiences that are never going to happen at home.”

That’s a bit of a knock on the home VR market, where Cooney explains that immersion is constrained by, well, the size of your living room and all the furniture and everything else that gets in the player’s way. To do VR right, he’s saying, you’ve got to go big. Which explains why his company is on something of a tear at the moment, with six of Zero Latency’s gaming spaces open across four continents right now and three more opening in the next six weeks. And there are plenty more to come, with the company having a total of 24 open by the end of 2017.

One of the newest is a VR attraction powered by Zero Latency that was set to open on Memorial Day at Octane Raceway, a family entertainment center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Other Zero Latency spaces on the way include a VR space in Boston set to open in July, with venues already open in Tokyo, Madrid and Orlando, among other destinations.

As far as business models go, this one is pretty simple. All that’s needed by Zero Latency — the origin of which dates back to the founders’ fascination with the idea of using a custom tracking system to play VR games in a big, empty warehouse-like space – is a room with basically nothing in it. (Other than the dozens of cameras tracking players’ movements, but you get the idea). The company already has rigs for players to use — which include an Alienware gaming computer and a custom backpack — and gaming content that Zero Latency has developed in-house.

Six players at a time can play any one of three games, from a zombie fort defense-style game to a puzzle game that bends gravity. And what those players get, in return, is as much as a 30-45 minute experience that Cooney insists eventually makes you completely forget you’re inside a virtual world.

“You walk in and there’s nothing,” he explains. “It’s a big space with a grid of cameras over your head. And all of a sudden you put on a headset, and you’re in this amazing world and you see your friends in there and you get to explore the space.

“When you’re tethered to your computer or limited to where you take one step and see a virtual wall pop up every five seconds, you’re being pulled out of that immersion. But when you get in a 2,000-square-foot warehouse and through tricks of the trade of going into elevators and turning people around when they don’t realize they’re being turned around — you’re not reminded you’re inside a video game.”

The company’s shortest game experience is 15 minutes. The average customer it sees is 31 years old, but they tend to range from between 25 to 40. And it’s a mainstream crowd, according to Zero Latency — not a purely gamer crowd.

The company is talking to entities like malls and movie theatres and family entertainment centers as candidates for new locations. The beauty of needing essentially an empty space, though, is Cooney says Zero Latency has yet to find a space where the concept doesn’t work.

The games Zero Latency has created and offers to players include Singularity. That one is a 30-minute game where players are investigating something that’s gone wrong at a space station. There’s also the puzzle game Engineerium, where players can walk up walls and ceilings and on twisty curves that Cooney says “mess with your spatial relations,” and Zombie Survival, where players are holding down a courtyard while zombies come at them from all around.

A CNET reviewer who tried out a Zero Latency space called it “the best virtual reality experience I have ever had.” It’s experiences like these that are fueling the expansion of the multibillion-dollar VR market — one that lets you strap on a backpack and headset, grab a gun controller and run around a massive space gleefully double-tapping the undead with your friends doing the same and cheering you on.

“There’s been so much written about VR being an isolating technology, with gamers kind of stuck in their homes,” Cooney said. “Our vision is to continue to build a big, big footprint of these epic social game spaces and bring people together to play games in a social environment.”


Source: BGR Media