Virtuality shares suspended as headset games flop

Virtual reality became grim reality yesterday for Virtuality after the once high-flying high-technology games and training simulation company asked for its shares to be suspended "pending clarification of its financial position".

Takara, the Japanese headset maker which licenses Virtuality's technology in that market, is thought most likely to step into the breach, either injecting cash through a rights issue or making an offer for the whole company.

Yesterday's suspension at 68.5p followed three months after the company crashed pounds 3.8m into the red, warning that disappointing sales of its virtual reality games were putting a squeeze on the cash flow it needed to develop its headsets. The red ink was much worse than analysts had expected and Virtuality's shares plunged below the 170p at which they came to the market three years ago and well down from the 361p they reached at the beginning of 1994.

Virtuality's honeymoon was short-lived as early bid speculation was soon replaced by the harsh reality of profits warnings, slumping sales and rapidly reined-in brokers' forecasts. Losses widened as the company passed through a difficult transition, reducing its dependence on arcade entertainment equipment and moving into lower-ticket home entertainment virtual reality headsets.

The company found it hard to make the shift from being a manufacturer and designer of equipment to a licenser of intellectual property to companies such as Takara in Japan. Yesterday it appeared the money had simply run out.

Opinion is divided on whether virtual reality was just another technological flash in the pan akin to the Sinclair C5 or whether it remains the technology of the future whose day will come, if not quite yet.

Whichever is right, investors have paid the price, with shareholders stumping up for a placing at 280p at the height of the stock's popularity. They became victims of a company that even analysts close to the business failed properly to understand. After October's loss, a huge range of forecasts underscored the guesswork that lay behind most expectations.

Virtual reality began in the US Air Force as a way of training pilots without risking millions of dollars worth of aircraft. Once inside his headset, a trainee pilot believes he is in the cockpit of a plane. If he turns his head to look at wingtips, he sees wingtips.

Other applications include architects taking clients on a virtual walking tour of a proposed building, and there are important uses in medicine and aeronautics. Virtuality had some success with a motorcycle simulator that was used in Japanese driving schools to train bikers.

If Takara does not take advantage of Virtuality's woes, the company boasts a roll-call of the world's electronics giants on its share register - including Philips, IBM and Motorola - which might welcome the opportunity to combine the company's technological know-how with their financial clout.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Marketing Executive - B2B - OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Recruitment Genius: Business Control Manager

£36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower