Home entertainment with everything but the popcorn

This playroom was not commissioned by Lewis Hamilton, but it should have been. The 10 x 10 meter space isn’t filled with snooker tables or a bowling alley (they’re located elsewhere in the mansion) — instead, it’s an immersive, interactive racing space. There are four chairs, each facing a different wall; Each design is reminiscent of a different supercar, one inspired by a Ferrari and the other by an Aston Martin DB5. In front of each is a steering wheel and pedals on a chassis that can tilt and move in response to whatever is happening on screen.

However, it is not connected to a PlayStation 5. “This is the next step, a fully 3D responsive, interactive environment, so we’re in talks with the teams building simulators for F1 racing drivers,” says Charlie Caswell, the architect working on the project. “They’re on the edge of what’s game and what’s professional.” Anyone who isn’t training for Monaco can run a version that pits a Ferrari against Mario Kart, he says, noting that the screens are curved, to ensure full immersion, even in a player’s peripheral vision.

As a new breed of digital natives emerges among the world’s wealthiest people, their homes, like their lives, will be defined by the internet.

High-end properties now need entertainment hubs equipped for ultra-high definition content and immersive platforms. See Facebook’s rebranding as Meta, or Disney’s shift toward merging the virtual and physical, whether through its recently patented augmented reality virtual world simulator or theme park rides and games – all aided by the special effects experts of its film and TV production subsidiary Lucasfilm.

At this year’s CES tech trade fair, the electronics multinational LG presented a media chair that combines a lounger with a curved 55-inch screen. Golf simulation is such big business that there are immersive home enclosures such as B. that of Carl’s Place.

A golf simulator from Carl’s Place

The design is often tailor-made, right down to the software. Betty Adamou and her team at Luxury Video Games develop programs according to a customer’s personal parameters, which are installed by Polycade on retro consoles.

Nowhere, however, is the shift in entertainment more evident than in projection rooms. Ambitious homeowners can replace the old-fashioned set-up of a couple of comfy chairs and a projector with a modern alternative like a “CIPOD” cinema capsule. Richard Gibbs, Managing Director of CIPOD, says the idea for the product was born when he and some colleagues from a small design company were working on several family homes around the world, from Lake Como to Montenegro.

He had installed a home theater at each site, an endeavor that usually involves different professionals working together – architects, acoustics consultants, engineers – which is often problematic. Gibbs saw the opportunity for an ultra high end one stop option and started their own company. Prices start at £240,000 but can easily go into the seven figures.

LG's media chair combines a lounger with a 55-inch curved screen

LG’s media chair combines a lounger with a 55-inch curved screen

CIPOD’s wood frame pods are custom designed and then pre-engineered at the factory before being shipped for on-site installation. The structure sits on springs and does not need to be attached to walls. “The heaviest piece can be carried by two people, and if you’re in a listed building, you can put it anywhere that’s ceiling height,” says Gibbs. “And all you need is an outlet to power the entire pod.”

Most customers opt for a CIPOD with room for 10 people or a size of around 7 x 5 metres. Others prefer to customize, such as the customer who only wanted two daybeds so he and his partner could watch in private.

For a family in the south of France, Gibbs has created pit-style seating closer to the screen, where children can sit out of sight while their parents relax on armchairs or use the rear bar. Another client wanted to turn their CIPOD into a live workspace, so the layout included a desk where they could have on-screen conference calls before starting a movie (or maybe picture-in-picture on more boring ones) during downtime Zoom calls). ). The most expensive configuration Gibbs has designed is a £1.5million version for an Omani family, which includes a 12-seat dining table and coffee lounge.

A polycade arcade screen

A polycade arcade screen

On the other hand, this family could opt for a concept from Ideaworks. The company specializes in systems that streamline the operations of high-end properties. It’s best known for a program called Mesh, which replaces disparate remote controls with one easy-to-use device that can control everything from lights to streaming services.

It works on both residential homes and superyachts, says Associate Director Stewart Keir, with budgets typically being much higher for the latter. “Houses are private sanctuaries, and the entertainment spaces there are places to escape from the rest of the world. Yachts are all about ‘look at me’,” he says. A large housing contract typically costs around £1m, while a yacht installation could cost more than seven times that.

The company’s latest concept is an entertainment space inspired by a nightclub it created on a ship. Every surface will be covered with micro LED panels that can display any content that the owner desires. “You could sit there at a dining table and have your dinner party in the Coliseum and then flip a switch to go to the jungle,” he says.

The biggest barrier to market launch isn’t cost or technology, though expensive and time-consuming to install: it’s the lack of available content. “You have to find a specialized videographer to create it, and of course you can’t travel to ancient Rome with a video camera. But the photorealism of CGI in video content today means you really can’t tell what’s real now or what’s not,” says Keir. “We just need theaters that produce content for these immersive environments.” Disney, are you listening?

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