Visited August 2018
Sometimes delights can be found in unlikely places. Following a long bicycle ride from London to Brighton, an overnight stay meant time to hit the beachfront.
Amongst the funfair attractions and fast food vendors I found an industrial looking VR attraction offering a paragliding experience.
After watching a screaming child being carefully removed from the apparatus, I waited patiently whilst the operator cleaned the headset and reset the experience (1,398 ride cycles on the display).
The super comfortable Oculus Rift CV1 was on daily duty, with Oculus cameras riding high up inside the framework of the motion rig.
Headset on, safely strapped in, wearing less than flattering beach shorts and flip flops…my experience started. I tried pulling up and had a huge adrenaline rush as my seat flew up in the air.
The paraglider was controlled by genuine rigging lines and handles linked to sensors registering cable pull giving the pilot the ability to cut sharp turns, hard pull-ups and stall turns. Very powerful fans blew air across me as I flew.
A well rendered mountain environment was mine with coloured rings to fly through creating a virtual course. The motion rig was extremely effective perhaps taken from the industrial side of hydraulics with a vertical lift of 2 metres and fast response giving no noticeable latency!
What had looked like a funfair attraction proved to be the most powerful motion simulator I have yet experienced and perhaps not for the feint hearted or those with weak stomachs simply due to the fast vertical sensations giving rise to vertigo.
Thankfully I like flying especially in VR so flew aggressively really putting the simulator through its paces.
Motion sickness wasn’t likely due to the huge proprioceptive feedback being generated as I was whisked up and down and cut very fast turns before skimming the ground and pulling up to circle over a bridge. My body felt like I was really flying and at a fast speed with those powerful fans giving an extra sensation as cold air blew across my body. Amazing stuff!
Soon enough the simulator finished and gently lowered me to the ground. The operator said “You were having fun there!”
I could only reply with a grin and we walked away leaving me feeling like I had just been paragliding for real. Like I said, delights can be found in unlikely places…
Thanks for reading! Rob Cole, immersivecomputing