Sponsored virtual reality (VR) experiences are a trend that has grown rapidly throughout 2014 and doesn’t look like it will be disappearing any time soon. Prolific public VR event designers Framestore, who have previously worked on experiences based on Game of Thrones and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar previously, recently partnered with Marriott hotels to present Get Teleported as part of the latter’s ‘Travel Brilliantly’ campaign.
Touring a number of cities throughout the US, VRFocus caught Get Teleported on the tail end of it’s campaign. Just as with Interstellar, Get Teleported wasn’t a simple case of putting on an Oculus Rift and passively viewing Framestore’s creation: the user instead entered a booth with all manner of tricks employed to heighten the experience.
Beginning in a virtual recreation of a Marriott hotel lobby, the user has a few moments to observe their surroundings before being automatically marched forward towards a map. The landmass of Hawaii is featured on said map, with a specific location highlighted by a glowing red marker. Seconds later you are sucked into the map and travelling at speed through a grey and white wormhole, only to emerge standing on the exact beach previously denoted on the map.
The beach isn’t a recreation however, unlike the hotel lobby, but a full 360 degree recording. The user can look around in all directions, admiring the beautiful tranquillity and feeling the ocean spray against their face as the waves crash against the rocks below. You are here for only a few moments, but it feels like it could’ve been hours.
Before you know it you’re pulled back into the hotel lobby and heading towards a second map. This time it’s sunny old England. More specifically; London.
Another quick wormhole ride and you arrive, standing atop of Canary Wharf. The floor tilts encouraging you to look down, but as you do you realise that you’re no longer in your comfort zone. Unable to swoop down to safety like Batman on the hunt for a villain, you are left to simply take in your surroundings and try not to let vertigo take a hold of you.
Soon you’re back in the safety of the hotel lobby, heading to the bar where a scotch on the rocks is waiting to settle your nerves. If the objective of Get Teleported was to highlight the many different experiences that travelling the world can offer, 90 seconds on an Oculus Rift was certainly the right way to go about it.
From a technical standpoint Get Teleported is definitely a high quality experience. The visuals – both computer generated and live action – are of a clarity rarely seen in VR at present. There were some occasional framerate issues in the hotel lobby sequence, but not so much as to induce the dreaded simulator sickness effect. The booth in which you stand, designed by Irrelevant in New York, features six fans – four above your head and two mounted on the lower part of the rear wall – and is perfectly sized so that you have freedom to move but never feel as though you’re in danger of falling over; although there is no safety harness the bars that surround the booth are always within arms reach.
The Get Teleported experience featured a second generation Oculus Rift development kit (aka DK2) and was certainly one of the finest uses of the technology for a commercial product that VRFocus has ever experienced. Some may not like the idea of VR being used for what could be seen as gimmicky advertising and product placement, but with the help of Framestore it’s experiences such as this that are currently leading the way in educating the unaware public as to the capabilities of the new medium.