When will virtual reality get real? Real soon, reports Magic Edge. On Aug. 27, the Mountain View (Calif.) startup, backed by Japanese entertainment giant namco, will launch the most ambitious vr entertainment center yet. It features a jet fighter simulation whose total-immersion experience outdoes rivals such as Kinney Aero and Virtual World Entertainment.

Wannabe pilots in Mountain View don a flight suit before a briefing by a squadron commander, who stays in radio contact throughout. Strapped into a pod, players "fly" through canyons and fire missiles. The pod, which pitches and rolls, and the 3-D images--supplied by the Silicon Graphics computers that created Jurassic Park's dinosaurs--respond instantly to the joystick.

Whether that's enough to make vr a hit is unclear. "The market's very slow to take off," says consultant John Latta. Biggest problem: prices. Magic Edge, for instance, charges $12.75 for eight minutes in the air.

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