As VRFocus previously covered, a waterpark in Germany has raised the bar with regards to adding virtual reality (VR) to attractions by creating what many believe to be the world’s first VR-enhanced waterslide. Its now possible to get a closer look at the attraction with a new trailer.
While we have reported previously on the idea of VR-enhanced rollercoasters like the ones at Alton Towers and Six Flags, combining a waterslide with VR technology might not seem like an obvious choice, but this is what Galaxy Erding in Germany has achieved with the VRSlide.
Once park visitors put on the VR goggles, they can be transported to a variety of locations which they flay past, over or through as they hurtle down the slide. The company behind the VR technology, Ballast VR admits that the graphics are not exactly cutting edge, but they overall effect of the experience makes that fade into the background.
“Ballast originally started by making an experimental headset that can be used underwater,” Stephen Greenwood, the CEO of Ballast VR, the company behind VRSlide, told Digital Trends. “Last summer, we were approached by German waterslide manufacturer Wiegand-Maelzer to see if we could build a system that worked on waterslides. The biggest challenge with VR on waterslides, compared to roller coasters or other track-based rides, is that every rider moves at a unique speed — meaning that in order for everything to be perfectly synchronized, we had to invent a tracking system that knows precisely where each rider is and display the VR content at a variable speed.”
“We were skeptical when considering to take on the project,” Greenwood explained. “But when we did some very early tests, even without the tracking system it became clear that it’s a bizarre combination that produces a really thrilling experience. I think it’s more fun than roller coaster VR, because there are multiple senses being stimulated — you have water splashing against the rider, unexpected twists and turns when the rider thinks they are going one way in VR, but then actually take a sharp turn in the other direction. Riders can also experience a new world every time they go down, so the same slide can be refreshed as much as the park operators would like.”
There are currently negotiations ongoing with regards to expanding the technology to new locations outside Germany, though nothing has yet been confirmed. The video trailer can be viewed below. For further related details see this this edition of The Virtual Arena back in December where the technology was first mentioned. For coverage of new applications for VR technology, keep checking back with VRFocus.