October 1, 2015
Walt Disney Co. Is Investing In Surprising Virtual Reality Startup

Walt Disney Co. recently made it known that they're investing in a surprising startup. This financial decision moves away from the cinema realm they're famous for and towards a virtual reality startup company called Jaunt. The Disney company recently took the lead on funding, earning the new company $65 million at the start.

Jaunt is just 2-years-old, and the $65 million Disney helped them earn only accounts for about two-thirds of what they're worth. In just a short time, they've become leaders in the virtual reality industry through their short VR production videos and advanced VR camera that has the ability to record video in 360-degree views. Overall, the company aims to bring something new, exciting, and unbeatable to the VR scene, and with Disney's help, that might just be possible.

Virtual reality could be Disney's newest investment.
Virtual reality could be Disney's biggest investment.

Walt Disney Co. sees this venture as a particularly lucrative business deal for them, even though it's a bit of a surprise. Disney has made a killing over the last few years with their adoption of the Marvel and Star Wars. Pixar animation has also helped take them to the top in the film industry.

As one of the richest companies in the world, Disney isn't known for making risky ventures, but virtual reality is just that. VR production around the world is still in its earliest stages, but still, global adoption is moving at a snail's pace. The technology seems to be far ahead of its time, and no one has managed to produce the tech at an affordable rate that also performs well enough for it to be worth the investment.

There's no indication that this technology will catch on in the future, either, whether in a commercial or residential setting. Most tech giants are of the opinion that VR may never take off. So far, the whole endeavor seems to be very similar to what happened with 3D films. They were largely hyped, but people soon lost interest, deeming it a feature not worth the extra few dollars in theaters.

However, Disney could put VR to more use than you might think. There's a much larger venue for the technology when you think outside of the movie scene. In fact, one of the most lucrative ways that the multi-billion dollar company can use Jaunt's technology is in their theme parks, which already make them more than $2 billion a year in profit. Imagine what virtual reality additions will do to their revenues.

There's no better avenue for VR than in amusement parks, and some of the technology would be a welcome addition to the Tomorrowland attraction in Disney Parks. It would be very similar to DisneyQuest, which garnered attention in its time at the famous parks. But the VR attractions would be more cutting edge than DisneyQuest, far more advanced and sophisticated, and with continued opportunities for advancement. That alone could get VR out into the market.

Disney's
Disney's "Tomorrowland" attraction at Disneyland, Anaheim on May 9, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

One idea that Disney has been playing around with over the last few years is an NBA-themed attraction that partners with ESPN to bring the world television sports like we've never seen them. Through this partnership, sports fans would soon have the ability to feel as if they were at the actual game, without the cost and hassle of actually traveling there. This is one attraction that they are almost certain to try out among the many other technological advancements featured in Tomorrowland.

If Disney is able to successfully bring VR into their amusement parks and keep it rolling as a continually advancing attraction in high demand, it will be the catalyst for bringing virtual reality into homes around the world. Everyone wants to bring their favorite experiences home with them, and Disney can do that for them, whether through the movie industry or sports. Walt Disney Co.'s investment in the Jaunt startup is one early investment that brings along major possibilities, so long as it doesn't flop prematurely.

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]