The future is here. New York City has announced that an augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) lab will be opening in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard.
City officials announced the creation of the so-called RLab on Thursday, which will be a 16,000 square foot center designed to cultivate projects in AR and VR, according to a report from Ad Week.
“We saw an opportunity here if we created a physical space, a lab, where they could all come together and be housed under the same roof but simultaneously have a space where they could experiment,” said Karen Bhatia, vice president of tech atNew York City Economic Development Corp. “It could catalyze further development of VR and AR technologies here in New York City.”
The Economic Development Corp and the Mayor’s Office are donating a combined $5.6 million to jumpstart the futuristic project. It is believed to be the first city-backed project of its kind in the U.S.
Further contributions were made by important local institutions like Columbia University, City University of New York and New York University.
City leaders have been concerned that virtual reality industries have not yet made a large impact in New York’s overall startup scene. After talking with major players in the industry, as well as investors, officials decided that they needed to make efforts to join together fractioned parts of the AR and VR communities.
Bhatia and other officials said that the Navy Yard in Brooklyn is the perfect space for these businesses because AR and VR businesses need high-ceilinged spaces and open offices to function and test materials.
The RLab will be led by Justin Hendrix of NYC Media Lab.
“What has changed over the past few months and what’s incredible right now is just the pace at which people are able to prototype,” Hendrix told Ad Week regarding the industry growth. “And that to me is the sign of a coming boom in applications.”