Syfy Is Bringing Virtual Reality to Comic-Con to Promote ‘The Expanse’

Syfy wants Comic-Con attendees to get crafty. The network is bringing 13,000 DIY Cardboard virtual reality headsets to Comic-Con in San Diego this week to promote “The Expanse,” a space drama that will premiere on Syfy in December.

Comic-Con attendees will be able to pick up their Cardboard at the Expanse Café in the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego. Attendees can then assemble the headset on the spot and download Syfy’s “Expanse” app for iOS and Android to explore one of the spaceships featured in the show.

The app also works with any other Cardboard-compatible headset and can even be used in a “magic window” mode without any headset, simply by moving the phone to explore the app’s world.

It’s the first time a TV network has officially used Google’s Cardboard VR headset to promote an upcoming TV series, and the choice was a no-brainer for Syfy’s senior VP of digital Matthew Chiavelli. “Google Cardboard was sort of the ideal way to do this,” he said, adding that the barrier to entry is very low with a low-cost headset that can be given away for free and that can be used with people’s existing phones.

However, Cardboard wasn’t just cheap, but also capable, he added: “The first time you use it, it’s actually really impressive.”

The “Expanse” VR experience was produced as a collaboration between Syfy, NBCUniversal Media Labs, IM360 and Digital Domain, and the goal was to build more than just a one-off experience. Syfy will be adding new content to the app in the coming months, said Chiavelli.

Syfy is also considering the production of additional virtual reality experiences for some of its other shows, including some that may involve live-action content shot exclusively for VR. However, the network wants to make sure shows actually lend themselves to such an experience, said Chiavelli: “We don’t want to do new technology just for new technology’s sake.”

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