'Operation Apex' will let you take a virtual reality dive with great whites

Jon Martindale

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Even though Curiscope’s Operation Apex shark experience is set to bring you closer than ever to life-like sharks in virtual reality, this is no Jaws adaptation. It is designed to encourage adoration and respect of one of nature’s most maligned predators in a setting that is both visceral and entirely safe: An HTC Vive headset.

It is perhaps telling of humanity’s enduring fear of great white sharks that some of the earliest virtual reality experiences for VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR were shark encounters. While those reinforced the idea that these enormous creatures are out for human blood, Curiscope’s Operation Apex, produced in partnership with HTC’s Vive Studios, is taking a more educational, and ultimately realistic, approach.

Curiscope previously released a 360-degree video on YouTube that brought viewers up close and personal with some great whites and it became hugely popular. It also gave the innovative mixed reality developer the drive to create something greater and more impactful. Following on from projects like its Virtuali-Tee shirt design, it is now looking to educate the world of VR users about sharks and marine life in general.

While the early preview trailer plays up the idea that sharks can be scary, it shows how motion controllers will act as a source of light and propulsion in the underwater world players will explore. Curiscope claims that players will be able to interact with sharks and “other elusive creatures that are rarely seen outside of their natural habitats.”

Even with the emphasis on education though, in a sentence that is sure to tickle your dormant thalassophobia (fear of the sea), Curiscope claims that the sharks in Operation Apex will be able to react to your presence.

It seems unlikely that that reaction will be aggressive, however, as Curiscope’s goal with this upcoming experience is to inspire people to care more about the oceans. There will be other underwater denizens to play with too. While we don’t know what they are yet, if the early trailer is anything to go by, they will probably look creepy, but ultimately prove to be our good friends by the end of it.

Here’s hoping, at least.