Virtual Reality & Roller Coasters – A Match Made in Virtual Heaven

Roller coasters are something you either love or hate, and in both cases, the passion is deep.  Those of us that love the exhilaration of flying around a track at 70 MPH with our arms swinging wildly in the air are considered insane by those that hate the thought of doing that.

But, what if you could change what you are seeing to something a little less terrifying and a little more awesome?  What if you could see something other than the open air in front of you as you head over that first stomach-dropping hill?  What if, instead, you are flying on a dragon after an evil bat that ran off with the princess?

 

Ride roller coaster with VR
PHOTO: REDERICK FLORIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Enter virtual reality.  This past summer, the theme park Six Flags America upgraded several roller coasters so riders now wear a virtual reality headset while on the ride.  Check this out!!

Superman Ride of Steel Virtual Reality Roller Coaster

The Washington post describes one ride – Superman Ride of Steel – like this:

On your screen, you’re on a sky tour of Metropolis when Lex Luthor shoots you and the rest of the city with an anti-gravity gun — while you make your first ascent up the track in real life. Suddenly, Superman appears and destroys the gun.

And then you drop. You’re centimeters away from the “ground” before Superman catches you, and for the remainder of the two-minute ride, Superman and Luthor duke it out while bouncing you all over the skies and raining debris on poor Metropolis.

 

Wesley Yiin

Virtual Reality Roller Coaster Preview Video of Superman Ride

Six Flags executives were wowed by Virtual Coaster GmbH, a German company, that specializes in creating augmented content to use while riding these speeding coasters.  Virtual Coaster set up a small demo on a roller coaster at a VR technology tradeshow in Orlando.

The director of design for Six Flags rode the demo and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be first to market with the VR roller coaster experience on large coasters.

It’s also a perfect way to refresh old and less popular roller coasters.

“It’s very significant for us,” said Sam Rhodes, corporate director of design at Six Flags. “It gives us an opportunity to remarket a coaster again and again.”

Daniel Michaels

The process for riding with VR is simple.  You can rent the VR headset from the park, strap it on and off you go.

Virtual reality roller coaster

What’s next for the roller coaster after virtual reality?  The Verge is suggesting the augmentation of reality.  They may be right as the technology seems to be lagging behind virtual reality.  (Perhaps it will take Apple to move AR forward?)  As The Verge reports:

Augmented reality, where the real world and the virtual are mixed together, will be the next evolution of this system. AR is more difficult to do well, and so its development will lag behind VR by a year or two. But it won’t be too long before you’ll be able to ride a coaster and see the actual world around you, while demons take bites out of the track ahead, and Superman descends from the skies above.

Ben Popper

As a lover of all roller coasters, I cannot wait to try one out.  In the meantime, I found a few videos to help me get my fix until I find myself at a Six Flags park.  Here they are if you have to wait too.

Dare Devil Dive Virtual Reality Roller Coaster

New Revolution Virtual Reality Roller Coaster

Hopefully riding it doesn’t make me feel like this guy!!  Enjoy 🙂  If you’ve ridden a roller coaster with VR, tell us about it in the comments!

Author: Becky DeForest

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