Kevin Williams reports from IAAPA 2015, an Amusement Park expo featuring upcoming rides and attractions coming to theme parks. He takes a closer look at the ever growing presence of VR at the show and its importance to the out of home entertainment sector.
About the Author – Kevin Williams has an extensive background in the development and sales of the latest amusement and attraction applications and technologies. The UK born specialist in the pay-to-play scene; is well-known and respected through his consultancy KWP; and as a prolific writer and presenter (along with his own news service The Stinger Report), covering the emergence of the new entertainment market. Kevin has co-authored a book covering the sector called ‘The Out-of-Home Interactive Entertainment Frontier’ (published byGower). He is also the founding chairman of the DNA Association, focuses on the digital Out-of-Home interactive entertainment sector. Kevin can be reached at –email@example.com
The International Association Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo 2015 proved a major gathering for the amusement and attractions industry, as well as the other leading groups in the Out-of-Home Leisure sector, new trends in entertainment technology playing a major part in gathering the trade to this Orlando Mecca.
First up, Chinese manufacturer 9D Technology brought their ‘9D Virtual Reality Experience’ is a three seat VR experience system, one of the first VR attraction systems to be released (having been in operation at a number of Chinese locations), the system running the company’s proprietary ‘9D HMD’, one of a number of Chinese Head-Mounted Display (HMD) systems seen at the show.
OCT Vision, also from China, brought their new HMD US show. OCT Vision is a developer of urban and cultural complexes and dynamic attractions, and they showed their new ‘OCT Vision VR’ system, another proprietary HMD. Hopes are that this platform will be used in a series of new attractions developed for their own domestic market.
Next up, The Giant Bug Company demonstrated their conceptual VR kiosk running the edutainment title ‘DinoTrek VR Experience’, based on the scalable VR App created by Geomedia.
The employment of VR technology into the attraction sector was seen on a number of prominent exhibitor’s booth – given a major place on the MediaMation, Inc. (MMI) booth, they showed their ‘REACTIVr’ – a ATV customized into a motion base experience, with two players racing around in a shooting driving demonstration, a proof of concept of MMI’s skills in this technology.
Not all the VR demonstrations were on the show floor, the major Dollywood theme park operation announced their new ‘Lightning Rod’ rollercoaster with a smartphone VR App that will allow coaster-fans to virtual ride the proposed new coaster using a YouTube 360 point-of-view video – with specially themed Google Cardboard HMD’s on display at the press event.
Innovation and new concepts are a signature of the IAAPA show – and the Brazilian developer Rilix, came to the show with such a concept – the ‘Rilix Coaster’ offers riders in one’s a two’s a chance to experience a number of virtual coaster tracks using Samsung GearVR HMD’s. The company had planned to use Oculus hardware, but were still evaluating their options.
One of the major presentations at the IAAPA exhibition was the appearance of Zero Latency from Australia, the company ran a demonstration of their ‘Arena-Scale’ VR experience. The company ran an exclusive demonstration in a closed booth with lines stretching from eager attendees signing up to try the system. KWP has consulted with Zero Latency and was able to gain an exclusive glimpse behind the closed doors of the booth.
The Indian family-entertainment center (FEC) developer SMAAASH Entertainment, came to the American show promoting the sale of attractions development for their three facilities to other international operators – one such example is the company’s VR experience ‘Finger Coaster’. Riders use a touch screen interface to first create a coaster track, which they can then ride via the VR motion-based coaster simulator, which also incorporates wind effects for added realism.
One of the unique new exhibitors at the show was the consumer game publisher Ubisoft International, with the company’s new business division looking to build on their theme park attraction work. The company brought their ‘Raving Rabbids 4D Virtual Reality Ride’ an example of their ability to take their IP and deploy this into the attraction scene. In partnership with Ubisoft development. Outside the show, the developer’s MM-One Project promoted their own VR 360-degree ‘MM-One’ motion-arm based system that was seen at Paris Game Week running ’Trackmania’.
The development of convenient, accessible and affordable VR systems that can offer the full experience of PC gaming into a DOE application (as seen at LAN Centers) were also on display at this event, the company Talon Simulation, showed the British developed ‘Atomic motion system’ offering a compact but advance motion platform running PC racing game content. The company working to make the system compatible with all consumer HMD’s to be used under license.
This is just some of the major immersive technology demonstrations that were at the event – many of the new developments planned for the coming years held behind closed door as the industry works on not only development the new attractions, but creating the next generation technology needed to provide the experience – an industry dedicated to keep one step ahead of the consumer sector, focused on building ‘Unattainable at Home’ experiences.