Downtown London - News

January 2019

  • VRcadia blending virtual reality with downtown excitement

    January 21, 2019

    VRcadia blending virtual reality with downtown excitement


    By Sean Meyer


    In a world where the next technological wonder is seemingly just around the corner, virtual reality is becoming today’s breakout experience and something Daniel Kharlas couldn’t be more excited about.


    “If you think about watching a video as a screen in front of you, virtual reality is walking into a screen and being a part of that experience. That world you walk into is your world when you’re in virtual reality,” Daniel explains. “For me, virtual reality is an extension of our lives, an extension of our reality. It’s very much like stepping through a door to another place. It’s something you can only describe so much until it is time to just try it.”


    Daniel, along with co-owner Shishir Pande, launched VRcadia (750 Richmond St.) on Christmas Eve 2018, but they are busy getting ready for the official grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.


    The journey to VRcadia’s Christmas Eve opening took some 18 months to accomplish.


    It began with an idea, Daniel said, that they wanted a place in London to explore virtual reality and to understand what it would be for London. 


    “The idea honestly originated with me loving the technology and getting the chance to work on a project with it,” he said. “I started thinking about this, could this be? I get what this is in Japan; I came back from there and saw how it was changing them, but how could it change how we live our lives?”


    As someone who loves anime, not to mention technology and the development of it, Daniel explains he was following the development of VR tech since it came into the mainstream. 


    Around that time, he had just started working on his masters in the psychology and neuroscience of meditation and certainly had no expectation he would transition into entrepreneurship.


    “I kept thinking about how amazing it would be to have a space like this,” he said. “Initially it was I can’t wait for someone to open a place like this. Then I decided I wanted to be that person. I have a vision for it.”


    Daniel also had a very specific vision in mind for where he wanted to set up the business.


    Originally from Thornhill, just north of Toronto, Daniel said he was starting to “understand the magic” of a medium-sized city such as London.


    “In a place like London, it constantly felt like any idea you have can actually happen. Downtown, especially over the last two years, it has been a revolution almost,” he said. “Downtown is growing into this community hub and it is changing to focus on new businesses, new ideas, and that is every day exciting. I wanted to be a part of that. It was a fuel for me; it kept me working extremely hard towards this vision.”


    As one might expect, setting up a new business has meant some difficult days.


    However, Daniel said the last three weeks in particular have been important in “refuelling myself and Shishir” because they finally experienced people come through the space and giving them input on what was great and what could be better.


    That notion is something Daniel himself constantly takes to heart.


    “I’m feeling pressure to do something great, but in a way that feels right. Every event we want to do is a series. We don’t want to do something that doesn’t evolve,” he said. “As we start to use technology, we understand it better. If you think of events the same way, each time you use it you want it to be a better and better experience. The only reason you come back to something is because you think it is getting better.”


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