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KHALEEJ TIMES, Thursday, Apr 12, 2018 | Rajab 25, 1439

Dare to climb the Burj Khalifa? Here is a (virtual) chance

Emirates: If you think Tom Cruise is the only one who can rapel around and climb the Burj Khalifa, then your mission - and HTC insists you choose to accept it - is to do it yourself. Virtually, that is.

The Taiwanese technology company on Wednesday unveiled the newest iteration of its virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive Pro, featuring improved specifications and a tie-up with one of Dubai's industry giants to give virtual thrill-seekers a chance to scale the world's tallest building.

HTC, in partnership with real estate giant Emaar, has installed the 'Mission 828' game - a nod to the height of the Burj Khalifa (in metres) - on the 124th and 125th floors. It simulates exploring the building including climbing its exterior all the way to its topmost spire - and feel free to fall if you wish.

Users who tried the game screamed repeatedly, giving a hint of how real it feels.

"The Burj Khalifa wanted to do something cool, something around technology," Ramit Harisinghami, vice-president and head of HTC Vive for the Middle East and Africa, told Khaleej Times.

"They had a brilliant idea in mind, saying 'how about extending [the Burj Khalifa] experience over and above At The Top," he added, referring to the floor of the structure with a 360-degree view of Dubai.

As at posting time, no prices have been confirmed for the 'Mission 828' experience.

Harisinghami pointed out that the project took less than a year to develop, with HTC even bringing in some Hollywood expertise to help out.

The HTC Vive Pro's enhancements include a new dual-lens camera, one each for virtual reality and augmented reality. Graphics, sound and overall performance and feel have also been significantly bumped up. HTC says it is the 'best' VR headset in the market, with 78 per cent better resolution than the previous Vive.

Asked if HTC has plans to replicate this experience in other Dubai landmarks, Harisinghami said: "We are very open to the idea of doing multiple of these experiences.

HTC's Vive ecosystem continues to grow, with over 3,000 apps on the platform an an expanding number of developers and users.

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