Waterford firm lands major US museum deal

File photo

A Waterford virtual reality firm is targeting major growth in North America and Asia after agreeing a deal with one of the biggest space museums in the US.

VR Education said its Apollo 11 virtual reality experience will launch in Alabama's US Space and Rocket Centre next month to mark the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon in 1969.

The museum is among the top aviation and aerospace museums in the US and was Alabama’s top paid tourist attraction with 850,000 visitors last year.

VR's chief executive David Whelan said the company is in negotiations with various major museums in the US, while it is also targeting growth in Asia's burgeoning virtual reality industry.

Shares in the firm, which listed on the junior markets of the Irish and London stock exchanges in a €6.7m IPO last year, fell almost 10% in Dublin but rose almost 3% in London. The company has a market capitalisation of €27m.

Apollo 11 allows virtual reality users to explore the lunar and command modules, and gamers can land on the moon’s surface and explore the Apollo 11 landing site.

Late last year, VR Education released a new high-definition version of the moon landing of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Mr Whelan said the Alabama deal would allow the company prime exposure in the US as it targeted further growth in the cities like Washington DC and New York, which have some of the world's biggest museums and tourist attractions.

"The US Space and Rocket Centre is expecting over one million visitors to walk through their doors and the centre has given us a prime location within the museum where visitors can participate in the Apollo 11 VR experience," he said.

The company is also targeting major growth in Asia after signing a deal with a South Korean immersive digital content company last week.

The agreement with D’Carrick involves VR Education's Engage programme, an online virtual social learning and presentation platform.

D'Carrick creates educational programmes for the South Korean education system.

Mr Whelan said it was the "first step" in the Asian market.

"South Korea leads the way in education, with the rest of Asia and the world following. There are great opportunities all over the world in how we bring education through VR," he said.

Mr Whelan said the release this week of Facebook's Oculus Quest headset was a huge advancement in VR.

Oculus Quest is a standalone headset for gamers that is cheaper than an iPad and doesn't require a PC.

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