Roller coaster/virtual reality project Vekoma

Monday, February 20, 2006 5:02 AM

For the study Industrial Design Eindhoven, Holland, and Vekoma we are doing a project on roller coasters and virtual reality. The assignment is to design a product that improves the experience of the physical ride of a roller coaster by using virtual reality. Since we consider everyone on this forum experts in the area of roller coasters we would like to ask you what you think about this project? For example: did you have experience with virtual reality and amusement parks, what would you like to see in such a product, what are do's and dont's for this project, are there safety issues we need to consider etc. Since we're in the beginning of the project every kind of information is helpfull.
Thanx in advance.

Gerrit-Willem Vos
Student Industrial Design, Technical University Eindhoven

Monday, February 20, 2006 9:38 AM
Do: Include theming elements like misters, fog, bubbles, sound, smell, etc....SENSORY experience. :)

Make CERTAIN that the video screen is synched *perfectly* with the motion of the seats....otherwise riders can get ill... ;)

Don't: Fail to keep us updated... thanks! :)

Monday, February 20, 2006 1:35 PM
Do - Make the effects as real as possible but,

Don't - Forget about the ride layout itself. The layout still has to be interesting for people to want to re-ride it after some of the special effects get "old."

Monday, February 20, 2006 1:47 PM
Are you trying to add virtual reality to a real rollercoaster or are you trying to make a virtual reality ride that is better than a real rollercoaster?
Monday, February 20, 2006 2:17 PM
^"The assignment is to design a product that improves the experience of the physical ride of a roller coaster by using virtual reality."

So, I think the answer is....(A). Which is WAY better IMO... :)
*** Edited 2/20/2006 7:17:23 PM UTC by rollergator***

Monday, February 20, 2006 2:25 PM
So basically they want to make a roller coaster and add virtual reality. It sounds like a great idea. Somewhat reminiscent of Chaos at Opryland. I believe that was what BeccaRaptor was referring to as far as the layout being interesting.
Monday, February 20, 2006 3:12 PM
Something like this has already been done on a Mack Powered Coaster in Bremens shortlived Space-Park. The cars had individual monitors which were then placed in front of the riders head like an OTSR.

The video showed a flight through space which motions were patterned after the coaster track. The outcome was quite effective. But apparently people were banging their heads on the monitor, since they could not brace themselves for the directional chagels. Now, this was a very mild coaster, just imagine what would happen if it was a full grown coaster (AND a Vekoma !!!)

The real challenge for the ride creators was timing: On a long train each individual monitor would require a syncopated transmission as the cars would be on the same spot at different times.

Space Park closed after just one season and awaits new owners. The park and its rides are still intact. It was rumoured that Canadas tiple five would purchase the facillity, but it seems this is not going to happen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 2:58 PM
The problem starts with the display technology - VR gear is of course generally very sensitive and breaks easily.
If you stick with "mono" visuals, you might be able to package an LCD screen well enough to handle the vibrations for a while, but things start to get really complex when you would like to use a real 3D display.
Of course, motion sickness is a problem, but that's true for all VR displays, may they be coaster-mounted or not.

What would be great of course is something that changes the perception of space - but for that there needs some research into what effective scenarios the respective display system can produce at all - so basically, a good starting point would be playing around with one and seeing what kind effects and geometries work your emotions the strongest (I know it may sound artsy, but all display systems have different strengths that need to be discovered).
How does it make your body feel?
Slamming against a virtual wall? Rushing toward an open end of the rail? How about fear of heights, claustrophobia, head/food choppers or other attacks on your physical integrity -
but of course there are also "positive" experiences... flying across a mountain ridge/landscape/cloudscape/diving under the surface of the water - through a storming particle system -around the moon, the sun, through the rings of saturn and all the other classics of IMAX virtual coaster cheese (that I personally prefer very much to the constant sense of vertigo that rides attempt to put you through)

I'm really curious:
Will a non-proportional mapping of rider motion to VR-motion work?
Could you map the motion of the train to something different or out of proportions without making people puke?

Like X at SFMM the ride could not allow people to have a chance to find out what is actually going on - preferrably, they don't even realise they are in a coaster - and what they feel is just an abstract symphony of weightlessness, extreme Gs and some weird visual and acoustic journey through a Michel Gondry-like semi-conscious maze.

So much potential.

P.S.: Was the Bremen coaster in "mono"? (unfortunately I missed it)

*** Edited 2/21/2006 8:07:33 PM UTC by superman***

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 3:52 PM
Adding VR to a ride like Space Mountain would be phenominal. Imagine the rich environment that could be created. You could have an army of spaceships whizzing past as you dart around. You could have trails coming off passing cars.

I think it would be a fun idea, but a dark environment might be the way to go.

That being said, the resolution would have to be really good. Even the latest Star Wars effects were pretty noticeable (I preferred the models and smoke).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 5:44 PM
I don't know. I sort of like the experience of actual reality while riding a coaster, but that's just me.

Then again, I say what's this DVD in a car crap? Let the kids look for license plates and "punch buggies" and count cows like we did when we were in the car.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 10:32 PM
Thanks RGB, now that I have someone to share an opinion with, I can finally post in this thread...

Adding VR to a coaster is a strange concept to me. I have heard of this idea before, and all that goes through my mind is "Why?" Why would anyone want a screen in front of their face while experiencing a coaster?

I would rather see "real" scenery, even if they were just cutouts. I would rather see "real" effects. Illusions are WAY more impressive to me than computer rendered imagery. I'd be the guy who want's to ride the coaster without my "VR3000 Mega-Goggles" just to see what the coaster looks like.

This concept reminds me of going to a concert only to notice that it is all lip-synced to a pre-recorded DAT tape. VR = fake, to me.

I don't know how, but I hope this helps. It's going to be hard to get people like me to be excited in the joining of these two technolgies. Right now I just don't "get" it.

Above all of what I have said, good luck on your project.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 11:13 PM
^ you do have a point there.

Many coasters really live off their visuals.
e.G. how lonely and insane it feels to be at the top of the lift hill, or how incredibly twisting the track looks and thoughts like "how is the train ever going to make it"
or just the size of a drop or the awe-inducing inversions, the long way down or the horizon tilting in a really twisted way - rushing toward the ground is often more of a visual event than a force which can be clearly felt.
I also agree that the actual visual - to *really be there* is an important aspect of coaster fun -
at least, part of the fun is to *almost* actually kill yourself, right?
At least for me as well, I get in touch with reality in a most intense way on coasters, so withdrawing into VR setup seems illogical when you can have such an intense "real" thing.

So adding personalised media to a coaster experience would have to start from there -
either the display system would be strong enough to produce a worthwile substitution to the real visuals (which might be the case on really small coasters such as the one in Bremen)
Or it would just add an aspect to the overall ride, along the lines of "augmented reality", like a continuous themeing the refers to the ride layout and elements in a more detailed way than themeing does normally - spreading out a storyline along the coaster track.
I think there definitely is potential to advance coaster design by adding context the the elements of a ride - as insane as it may seem right now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 6:52 AM
I found a thread which shows some pictures of the Mack Virtual Coaster.

They are hidden within a batch of photos of Space Park Bremen. Be warned though, there are masses of photos and you have to watch many empty spaces and faces before you get to the coaster-pics.

Apparently, the video was 2D. It seems a big problem of this device was the heavy weight of those "visors". They required to be held in a comfortable position by the rider himself. Otherwise they would come down and hit you.

(you have been warned):

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 1:22 PM
The big question on a VR-enhanced coaster:

How would people snag on-ride POVs? ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:11 AM
Well at first thanx for all of the replies, I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of them. All the information is realy helpfull and its good to know your opinion about our project.
What I do have to make clear is that we're still students so it's not sure whether the outcome of the project will be taken into production, but ofcourse we try our best.
I noticed that many refered VR to the standard goggles or screens but it could well be that we'll only use sensory stimulations or music, it's our goal to go as wide as possible and not stick to the standard VR, thinking out of the box. A nice of example of something totally different from standard VR but usefull can be seen on this page:
If you have anything else to share with us please let me know.
Thanx a lot.


Thursday, February 23, 2006 11:03 AM
^Whoa, those pictures are amazing! I especially love the second and third room.

On "GeoPanic" an indor coaster in Tokyos Korakuen Park which uses/used some similar effects. You speed through a dark, descending corridor made out of big red neon rings. You could see the neon rings go on into the distance and you would think that the corridor was about 60 ft long. Suddenly and unexpected the train would drop into a pitch black hole and it was then that you realized that about half of the neon rings were actually hanging on a wall, decreasing in size, instead of surrounding the coaster track. This effect worked great for the first time AS LONG as you would not sit in the front row. There was always enough light to see the track in front of you.
I donĀ“t know if they still use this effect (recent japan visitors should know).

I guess you can do many things with tricks like you showed in the link. Those old fold-up pictures from Mad Magazine come to mind :)

Name it "Op-Art-Coaster".

Friday, February 24, 2006 5:19 AM
We just had a team meeting and we wanted to ask you all about your opinion on something. We were wondering what everyone prefers and why:
A large thrill ride with lots of G's but then again also lots of bumps, shacking and perhaps bruises afterwards, a coaster which is heavily themed and somewhat less extreme or a thrill ride in which you are tightly secured making the ride more comfortable but also limiting the freedom of movement.
Friday, February 24, 2006 8:17 AM
"a coaster which is heavily themed and somewhat less extreme"

That's my choice...

Friday, February 24, 2006 11:33 AM
How about the large thrill ride, but minus the bruises?
(not an option?, ok, then I'd go for No2 as well)

To be perfectly honest, elements of group No3 could be from group No 1 and 2 as well, but "limiting the freedom of movement" sounds negative, so 2 sounds like the most favorable

Somehow I would just like the maximum of everything (apart of extreme G-forces, lateral accelerations and bumps - or anything else that hurts or does permantent or temporary damage)

Friday, February 24, 2006 11:55 AM
Add me to the "not interested" category, for many of the same reasons as mentioned above. Not a VR fan here.

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