Space & Innovation

McDonald's Cooks Up VR Headset Happy Meals

Test program in Sweden turns kids meal boxes into virtual reality goggles. Continue reading →

While we haven't yet confirmed with Discovery News' worldwide network of apocalypse mythology scholars, we're pretty sure this is some sort of End Times omen:

Fast food juggernaut McDonald's is rolling out a pilot program in Sweden that turns Happy Meal boxes into virtual reality goggles. With a few flips and folds, kids can transform the box into a smartphone holder, which provides a kinda-sorta VR experience similar to Google Cardboard.

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McDonald's provides the VR game app, too. This first iteration of the marketing initiative - called Happy Goggles - is themed around the Swedish holiday known as Sportlov, in which families traditionally head out on skiing trips. McDonald's game has kids racing down a virtual ski slopes, slaloming around by way of the smartphone's internal motion detectors.

The game is called "Se Upp I Backen," which translated in English to "Watch Out on the Slopes." McDonald's officials report that the game has been officially endorsed by the Swedish alpine ski team. These guys think of everything.

The box itself houses everything needed to create the Happy Goggles. Just tear along the perforated lines and insert the included plastic VR lenses. You'll need to bring your own smartphone, but surely its only a matter of time until those become disposable as well.

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Adweek reports that the Happy Goggles project is the latest in a series of curveball McDonald's marketing gambits, including a previous Swedish campaign featuring Big Mac thermal underwear. For realsies.

From McDonald's official Happy Goggles website: "It's our mission to ensure that the world's most famous box will continue to be magical and relevant to families for another 30 years. The Happy Meal simply must move with the times."

On the off-chance that you're lovin' it, here's a demo video of the Happy Goggles in action:

The virtual reality revolution is upon us -- finally. After years of hype and development, three consumer VR headset models are scheduled to hit shelves this spring. Industry watchers are treating it all as a Very Big Deal, indeed. Virtual reality films and educational titles will open up entire new vistas of experience, but the first wave of VR goodness will come in the form of immersive video games. Here we take a look at ten of the most anticipated games en route for the

Oculus Rift

,

PlayStation VR

and the

Vive

headsets. The sci-fi adventure game

Pollen

, pictured above, is one of many multi-platform games designed to manipulate time and space by putting players in a richly detailed, 360-degree virtual world.

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The spaceship dogfight shooter

EVE: Valkyrie

will come bundled with both the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR headsets, and is likely to be most players' first introduction to virtual reality gaming. Advance word on the title, which supports team-based mutliplayer combat, is white hot.

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Created by marquee developer Epic Games ("Gears of War"),

Bullet Train

uses a hand-mirroring design to accommodate two-fisted firing with Rift's motion controllers. Check out the

frenetic demo video

to get a sense of Epic's VR update to the classic first person shooter (FPS) genre.

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10 Tech Trends For 2016

In the space game

Adr1ft

, players assume the role of an astronaut in peril, exploring the wreckage of an orbital station in a damaged

EVA suit

. Developers are describing Adr1ft as a First Person Experience (FPX) game, with combat and violence replaced by exploration and puzzle solving.

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Sports simulations are expected to be a popular genre in virtual reality -- it's all the fun, minus the ligament damage.

VR Sports Challenge

will let players participate in hockey, football, basketball and baseball from an immersive first-person perspective. Rather than play through entire games, players will be dropped into short scenarios -- like defending the goal in hockey.

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In terms of daydream scenarios, being a rock star is right up there with sports heroics for armchair gamers. At least, that's what developer Harmonix is hoping. Just last month, the company announced that its popular

Rock Band

franchise will be moving to the realm of virtual reality sometime this year.

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With

World War Toons

, game designers aim to create a looney, 'tooney alternative to ultra-realistic combat games. Check out the very funny

promotional video

to get a sense of the vibe. These guys know their Bugs Bunny, clearly.

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The highly detailed outdoor adventure game

The Climb

suggests the interesting sideways directions that VR gaming can explore. Players can take on extreme rock-climbing challenges based on actual locations around the world.

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One of the first games to support early iterations of the Oculus Rift code,

Alien Isolation

was released for PC and consoles back in 2014. Sega hasn't confirmed that a full VR version will be released, but that's the rumor, and the game's suspenseful, atmospheric gameplay is a perfect fit for virtual reality terror.

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As the VR game market expands, you can expect some inspired goofiness, as well. The delightfully weird

Surgeon Simulator

line of games will migrate to virtual reality in 2016 with a new title featuring, um, alien autopsies on Mars. Guitar heroics, rock climbing, orbital surgery? This is going to be fun.

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