Last year at Samsung’s developer conference in San Francisco, I watched people ride a VR roller coaster. I would have tried it myself, but the lines were long and I’m impatient. Also, it was kind of fun watching other people sit in a roller coaster car that wasn’t actually going down a track, but was being tossed about on giant hydraulics. The car’s movements were synced to whatever was going on in the passengers’ GearVR headsets, and the whole thing looked like a very worthy trade show stunt.
Fast forward 12 months or so and trade show stunts are the new amusement park rides du jour:
Officially open to the public this past Friday, Kraken Unleashed features VR audio and video headgear tethered to each seat individual seat on the ride. Once passengers lower their safety bar, they can then reach into a small pouch attached to said bar which contains their freshly cleaned headset. From there they are immediately transported to a virtual deep sea loading station very similar to the actual one they’re physically sitting in. Once each rider is properly situated, they are then launched into a mind-bending 3D stereoscopic experience perfectly synced to the movement and various inversions of the track.
Kyle Melnick’s write up of SeaWorld Orlando’s VR ride makes it sound pretty cool, and well-executed. VR roller coasters make a ton of business sense, too. For starters, you don’t have to erect a massive track structure. You can also use the same hardware to create multiple ride experiences simply by reprogramming the headset content and car movements.
But I can’t shake the feeling that this is another baby step on the path towards human existence “evolving” towards millions of brains in jars tethered to digital realities in which physical motion is a thing of the past.
Okay, somebody clearly needs another cup of coffee…