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Samsung's latest VR moonshot literally takes a shot at the moon

It's no giant leap for mankind, but an antigravity rig does help you make giant leaps for mere earthlings.


If you've ever wondered what it's like on the moon, Samsung is trying to bring it virtually down to Earth. 

In New York on Thursday, Samsung opened an elaborate virtual-reality experience called A Moon for All Mankind. With a specialized rig harnessed to your body, you can jump into the air with the moonwalking bounce of Neil Armstrong. And with a Gear VR headset and a Galaxy S9 Plus phone in the place of a visor on your space helmet, virtual reality creates a lunar landscape around you. 

"You're still in  New York City, but it takes you to some other place," said Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut who helped Samsung ensure the experience was authentic. "That was what it was like going to space as well."

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Virtual reality is one of technology's buzziest trends, attracting giant investments by heavyweights like Samsung, Google and Facebook. Despite the hype, widespread adoption of VR has been elusive. That has companies like Samsung pulling out the stops to show off VR's possibilities with extravagant experiences like A Moon for All Mankind. The ultimate goal is that one of these experiences, whether it's a whiz-bang, appointment-only simulation of walking on the moon or just a VR short anyone can access, will become the gotta-see-it trend that lures consumers into the unfamiliar technology. 

Samsung's Gear VR doesn't normally have the ability to track my movements. For A Moon for All Mankind, Samsung soups up its Gear VR with sensors attached to my hands and elbows, so my arms move in the experience whenever I move them in real life.

But the biggest difference about this experience from normal VR is the antigravity rig. With the kind of body harness that allows actors to fly across a stage, the rig amplifies your Earth-bound jumps into lunar leaps. 

Versions of A Moon for All Mankind were available in February at the Olympic Village of Pyeongchang, South Korea, and at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, but this is the first time the broader public is getting access to it. For the next year, this experience is available in New York at the company's Samsung 837 event and demo space. Anyone can schedule a "mission" by appointment online at www.837gearvr.com

Samsung plans to make more installments of space experiences like this through the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk next July.

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