Those who have been reading VRFocus over the past few months will have seen a range of virtual reality (VR) roller coasters come and go through the likes of the Oculus VR Share platform and more. The brief demos have proved to be effective ways of demonstrating the potential of VR to the uninitiated. This week sees the reveal of a new VR roller coaster project unlike anything players will have ever experienced before, named VR Coaster.
VR Coaster was first conceived by Thomas Wagner, professor in the department of Virtual Design at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern. Throughout 2014 Wagner has been working with German roller coaster manufacturer Mack Rides to create a unique system in which an Oculus Rift is used during a real roller coaster ride, with the track’s movements being synchronised within the experience.
Crucially, the experience on display on the Oculus Rift isn’t simply a replication of the roller coaster’s course. Instead it uses one of a number of different experiences including the likes of flying a space ship through asteroids and being pulled along on a chariot by Pegasus, which also happens to be the name of one of the two compatible rides that the software has been tested with in Europa-Park, Germany. As users ride along, the sensations of moving around the roller coaster track provide a deeper sense of immersion with the software.
While one passenger wears the Oculus Rift, another sitting next to them monitors the software with a laptop attached to the cart. The first ride using the Oculus Rift took place on 7th April 2014, though Wagner is only now allowed the reveal the project to the public. Work on the project is set to continue, though it’s unclear if this experience could roll out on a wider scale to other theme parks for general use. Currently the system uses the Oculus Rift’s first development kit (DK1). While it would certainly be enticing to see the second development kit (DK2) implemented, positional tracking may prove to be an issue on a speeding ride.
VRFocus will continue to follow any and all applications of VR, reporting back with the latest.