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Business Insider

Netflix uses VR to recreate a video rental store

Store uses HTC Vive headset and its hand controllers allow users to reach out and grab 'tapes' off the shelves

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 May, 2016, 11:49am

Netflix designers and engineers have been known to create some unique innovations during the company's biannual hack days, where experimentation is encouraged. In the past, employees have managed to get Netflix running on a 1950's TV and designed a 3D animation of the Earth with real-time global activity playback.

Netflix's latest hack day was no different. This time around, engineers created a virtual video store called the "Netflix Zone" that can be explored from within a virtual reality headset. Netflix tested it out using the HTC Vive headset, allowing viewers to browse and make movie selections in a small virtual video rental store that looks like a Netflix-branded Blockbuster.

A throwback to the VHS tapes and DVDs that Netflix and other streaming services have essentially replaced, viewers can select a VHS tape from the video store shelves in packaging that matches Netflix's original programming — and thanks to the HTC Vive's hand controllers, you can actually reach out and grab them off the shelves.

When a viewer holds up his or her desired selection, movie screens drop from the ceiling and emerge from the walls for an alternative viewing experience.

While the innovations that come out of Netflix hack days are entertaining, Netflix employees acknowledged in a blog post Tuesday that the majority of them are unlikely to ever become part of the Netflix product. Instead, they note that they're "posting them here publicly to simply share the spirit of the event and our culture of innovation."