Valo Motion Q&A: Arcades’ next big thing?

Valo Motion is a developer and hardware manufacturer taking on the interesting technical challenge of creating augmented reality experiences over in Helsinki, Finland. Using proprietary tech and AI-based multi-person tracking, they have created ValoClimb, ValoJump and ValoArena, interactive mixed-reality experiences that are focused on being played in an active way, in-person, with other people.

We sat down with Dr. Raine Kajastila, CEO and founder of Valo Motion, for a Q&A session ahead of the IAAPA Expo in London later this month, to find out all about their products and what they’re bringing to the attractions industry. You can read it below.

How did the idea for ValoArena come about?
When observing what is the most fun thing with our previous products ValoClimb (for climbing walls) and ValoJump (for trampolines), we noticed that the best part is not the games or activity themselves, but the fact that you can play them together with other people. Our goal was to create something unique where a group can just walk in and have an amazing active gaming experience together – and we definitely succeeded in that!

Would it be accurate to say that ValoArena takes the EyeToy/Kinect concept to a whole new level?
In a way you could say that. However, we had to solve quite many technical challenges like creating our own AI-based multi-person tracking, so that we can give players a seamless, real-time experience. We have not encountered anything similar elsewhere, but that’s what Valo Motion does; we create groundbreaking, unique experiences and products. The key thing is also active gaming where players need to move a lot and even break a sweat to be good at the games. Making a group move a lot requires quite a bit of floor space, thus having something similar at home would not be easy.

How is ValoArena being received by the industry?
The response has been very positive and because of that, we have been quite busy, having one to two ValoArena installations per week before summer holidays kick in. We hear from customers that it’s important for them to offer gaming experiences for many players – which is why they’re happy with ValoArena, as it can be played by six players simultaneously. Of course, the quality of the games needs to match something that the players are accustomed to playing on their phones and laptops. What also resonates really well within the industry is that there is no need to have personnel to supervise the use of ValoArena, because starting the game and playing have been made extremely easy. This helps operators save resources.

Are more games and experiences being developed?
Yes! We are just starting out with our current game selection and there are already more games under development. When we release new games, they are automatically uploaded to ValoArena systems globally. This way, there is always something new for the players to experience when they come back next time to play.

How do you hope to develop the product or product line in the months and years ahead?
We launched ValoClimb for climbing walls in 2016 and we are releasing new games, levels and services for it. At the same time, ValoArena is a concept that will receive new updates regularly. At some point we can see extending the product line, but not close in the future. Instead, we are focusing on widening the range of our game selection.

Has there been interest in the platform from UK vendors?
Certainly! We are having several discussions about the first installations in the UK! A great opportunity to come and test ValoArena is at the IAAPA attraction expo September in London. We will have a ValoArena system at our booth, and it will be officially launched at the trade show.

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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