Valley Fair using virtual reality to preview construction of San Jose mall

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Shoppers at Westfield Valley Fair have been enduring a lot of construction activity lately as the mall expands from 200 stores to over 360 and as its footprint grows from 1.5 million square feet to 2.2 million square feet.

But shoppers are getting a treat for putting up with the nuisance.

They're going to get to experience Valley Fair through virtual reality (VR) headsets as it will look when the project is completed in the spring of 2019.

Mall shoppers will have to wait another month before the Westfield-owned facility will have the VR experience set up. ABC7 News was given a VR preview Thursday morning.

With goggles, one can experience a walk down hallways, passing fellow shoppers, and look at the storefronts.

They checked out the new upper level space where special events might be held. Look up, and see the massive skylights that make the expanded mall bright and cheerful.

Best of all, pop a balloon held by a little girl, and the user is suddenly propelled over the mall and be able to take in a panoramic view from the sky.

Scot Vallee, Westfield's Vice President for development, thinks Silicon Valley is a perfect place to use virtual reality to give a tech-savvy community a preview of the mall that straddles both San Jose and Santa Clara.

What it doesn't do is clue you into the technology that will be part of the expanded Valley Fair. It will be ready for the Internet of Things (IOT) as shoppers seek more immersive, interactive and lifestyle oriented retail experiences.

Retail consultants say the trend is moving towards "retailtainment" where customers expect fun and entertainment as part of their shopping experience.

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