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Holodome. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

The TED conference often serves as a preview for where the virtual reality industry is going. This year, it's all about entering immersive VR domes rather than strapping on a headset.

Why it matters: Destination VR, despite its promise, has struggled financially, with IMAX closing many of the locations it had opened. Paul Allen's company Vulcan is seeking new partners as it debuts new experiences for its Holodome at TED.

The centerpiece of the dome movement is Holodome, which was a pet project of the late Microsoft co-founder.

  • At TED, Vulcan debuted 2 new experiences: one is a live-action film that takes you to the top of Mount Everest and another takes you inside the Impressionist works of Claude Monet as you step inside the artist's world.
  • The video is not just all around you, but also above you and at your feet.

My thought bubble: Both new exhibits do exactly what good VR should — that is, convincingly take you to a place you couldn't go, somewhere either inaccessible, like Everest, or unreal, as with Monet.

Details: The centerpiece of the technology is 4 very-high-resolution projectors.

  • There are 2 Holodomes already in the wild, one that was used for consumers at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPop) in Seattle and another in Venice, California, where Vulcan has been showing the technology to creators.
  • At MoPop, 40,000 consumers have been through the Holodome since last May.

Pros: It's a more social experience — you don't have to strap anything on. Unlike VR, which is usually limited to those 13 and over, Holodome itself is suitable for all ages. Also, it's easily transformed to multiple experiences.

Cons: While immersive, you don't feel quite as transported as in goggles-style VR given the hole for the projector and the fact you see shadows on your shoes and clothes. Like other destination VRs, it's expensive, with units currently costing on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, Holodome also has a little cousin in the form of a cement dome used by TED sponsor DuPont.

  • While the resolution is less and the content is computer generated and more promotional, there are a couple things to note including its use of haptics as well as its smoother construction, eliminating the visible seams inside the larger Holodome.

The bottom line: Holodome is captivating, but translating such experiences to business success has proven tougher than expected. Vulcan is wise to be seeking partners to help it bring the technology to market.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

At least 125 dead in western India after landslides, monsoon flooding

Vehicles driving through a flooded street in Mumbai on July 19. Photo: Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

At least 125 people are dead after monsoon rains triggered landslides in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

State of play: Downpours lasting several days have impacted hundreds of thousands of people, as major rivers are in danger of breaking through their banks.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

🚨: China wins 1st gold of Tokyo Olympics

📺: The Olympic events to watch today

🎾: Athlete spotlight - Naomi Osaka looks to snag gold on home soil

👻: How the no-spectator Olympics could affect the athletes

🇺🇸: "What an honor it is to watch you soar," first lady tells U.S. Olympians

🥇: The six new sports at Tokyo 2020

💉 About 100 U.S. Olympic athletes are unvaccinated

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

3 hours ago - Sports

China wins 1st gold of Tokyo Olympics

Silver medalist Anastasiia Galashina of Russia, gold medalist Yang Qian of China and bronze medalist Nina Christen of Switzerland celebrate on the podium after the 10m air rifle women's final. Photo:

China's Yang Qian won the first gold of the Tokyo Olympics, narrowly beating Anastasiia Galashina of the Russian Olympic Committee in the women's 10-meter air rifle final.

Why it matters: The first medal ceremony of the Games took on extra meaning after a year-long delay and other hurdles brought on by the pandemic. Athletes are required to hang medals around their own necks in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.