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Esqapes VR Massage Center’s Digital Spa Dismantles Stress With Sensory Tech

    esqapes center LA
    Esqapes VR Massage Center is an oasis that everyone should experience! So many of us have neck pain from staring down at the phone. Or we have back pain from bad posture when we sit or stand for long periods. Some of us don’t have pain but do have stress and tension. If this sounds like you, keep reading. The world’s first virtual reality massage center, which opened in June 2019, is located on bustling Wilshire Boulevard inside the famous SAG-AFTRA Building in LA. The digital oasis blends a relaxing spa environment with technology. When I came in for my visit to Esqapes, I was greeted warmly by their receptionist and filled out a waiver. I immediately felt so calmed by the spa atmosphere. Soothing ambient lighting, a cool room to chill in before the massage, and interior design that made my earthy techy sides smile.

    How Esqapes Became a Reality

    Micah Jackson, the founder of Esqapes and VR entrepreneur, was my virtual guide for the massage. Curious about how he came up with the VR massage concept he told ARPost, “Esqapes was born out of my recent love for VR development. In 2017, I created a VR film called ‘Where Angels Meet’ which is partially set in a heaven-like environment.”
    Micah Jackson - founder of Esqapes and VR entrepreneur

    Like many roads to VR creation, he spent time with the then-new technology hanging out “wonder[ing] if other people would like to do this as well. That led to the ‘Heavenly Garden’ environment which is currently offered at Esqapes.”

    In a stroke of genius, he says, “I began working on other non-interactive VR worlds and while walking one day, the idea of using a Massage Chair popped into my head! I bought a massage chair for my home and began working on a prototype of what would eventually become Esqapes.”

    Getting a VR Massage

    Walking to my room, I got a glimpse of the ultra-luxurious massage chairs, powerful custom glowing Cyberpower Windows PCs, and perching VR headsets. I already felt like I was in another world, but this was so cosmic.

    The Biggest Concerns. Despite the positives, there are some concerns about virtual reality. For example, some critics point out health and safety issues. If the technology is not used properly, users might suffer from health issues like seizures and other major discomfort. Some people could also trip and fall. There are also major privacy concerns with virtual reality. Some people fear that the headsets could lead to government surveillance, although there is no proof of that as of yet.

    Standing at my chair I said, “Send me to Mars in that!” With 11 virtual environments to pick from, I immediately knew what I wanted to try. You might like palm trees and gardens, but I picked “Quartz Canyon.”
    Esqape environment
    I was introduced to my masseuse, a Fujimedic Kumo. It’s basically a mechanical marshmallow that gently turns you into a ball of clay. Micah showed me how to get in and out of the massage chair, where to place my hands, and helped me get the Oculus Rift S on.

    This was my first time using the new VR headset. I was blown away! My medium-sized glasses fit easily, a totally different experience than with my CV1. The halo design was so comfy and light – perfect kicking back and relaxing!

    Once it was on my head I saw Micah appear on the screen with the passthrough feature. I’ve used Passthrough+ on Oculus Quest, but this looked so cool in a spa setting than in a living room. For sound, I wore headphones by Skullcandy. The headset calibrated and the massage chair reclined back like a spaceship. Then, I was transported to “Quartz Canyon.”

    Welcome to Your VR Massage

    “Quartz Canyon” is a VR environment that is equal parts earth, air, and water (and a small bit of warmth). The environment has red rock caverns, crystals, waterfalls, and a glass ceiling. Looking up, I could watch sealife moving.

    Sensorama was the first attempt at VR experience, this unique concept was developed by a cinematographer named by Morton Heilig. This VR device was aimed at stimulating a person’s senses.

    quartz canyon

    During the experience, the chair kneaded my neck, shoulder blades, back, and glutes in circular motions. The machine even had pockets for my arms and hands, with a space for my legs that squeezed them.

    To complement the elements, any good massage will create blood flow and warmth. As a writer, the gentle pressure was exactly what I needed. My VR massage lasted for 25 minutes but it felt like an hour. Bliss!

    Watching the ocean life above me, I thought about aquariums at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas or the Long Beach Aquarium. Those are cool, but Esqapes has aromatherapy, sensory tech, and massages.

    Soothing breezes with notes of lavender and harmony were pleasant and calming. Micah says a special software allows fans, heat lamps, and diffusers to sync together. This elevates the virtual environments to otherworldly and luxurious.

    esqapes VR massage chair
    Once my massage session came to a close I got up and felt relaxed but also invigorated. Curious about the chairs, Micah showed me the Dreamwave M.8, a massage chair with a side door. This is basically one that’s easier to get in and out of for those with mobility or back issues.

    Most People Haven't Tried It Yet. Virtual reality keeps growing in popularity. One study found that only one in three people in the United States have actually tried virtual reality. That means that there is still more room for acceptance among consumers in the country. On a positive note, nearly 90 percent of people were aware of virtual reality, which also means that many people have a basic understanding of the technology, even though they have not yet experienced it in person. The future is bright for the industry.

    VR Continues to Thrive

    VR has so much potential to make real change in people’s lives. There’s gaming, but not everyone can or wants to do that. And, it’s certainly not dead like some will claim. We got Micah’s take on VR.

    He says, “I think VR is definitely here to stay and not a dying fad. Like smartphones, I think it will take several years (maybe even a decade) before it is commonplace. For more than 90% of our guests, Esqapes has been their first VR experience. The cool thing is that some of our visitors are much older than your ‘typical’ VR arcade goer and it allows people who aren’t inclined to run around and shoot stuff, to enjoy high-quality VR passively.”

    Whether you’re blasting aliens in virtual worlds or need a relaxing moment of self-care, VR is for everyone and has many uses. He says, “I feel that there is so much emphasis on interactive VR games, that most people discount this tech as just another gaming device. That’s a mistake. As more novel uses cases for VR emerge (like Esqapes), you’ll see the adoption grow more rapidly.”

    Micah has found an innovative VR use that I and many others are getting behind. From my own experience, Esqapes is the ultimate escape from reality. My body and mind feel better for it. I’ll definitely be back!

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