Life’s a (Virtual) Rollercoaster

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Life’s a (Virtual) Rollercoaster

 Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset and Six Flags

Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset and Six Flags

Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 (Macintosh)

Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset and Six Flags

Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 (Macintosh)

Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 (Macintosh)

Samsung’s Oculus-powered Gear VR headset and Six Flags

Michael Bakshandeh, Writer

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Have you ever wanted to pilot a fighter jet, stop the world’s next apocalypse, or be Superman for a day? All this and more can be done using the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality simulator. Many people already know what the Oculus Rift is capable of; or so they think. With new updates, the Oculus Rift can now be used for virtual rollercoaster rides.

What exactly is a “virtual rollercoaster ride?” It’s exactly as it sounds: a rollercoaster ride that is centered on a “virtual reality.” While riding a rollercoaster with the Oculus Rift, riders can imagine that they are actually saving the world from an alien invasion, or stopping the next plane crash. It’s essentially like playing a video game while riding a rollercoaster.

The ride New Revolution in Valencia, California is one of the newest rides to incorporate the Oculus Rift. It’s interesting to note that the rider does not have to ride with the Oculus Rift. However, the people who have chosen to ride with the virtual reality simulator reported that their experience was heightened. They obtained a “different sensory feel” while riding the rollercoaster with the Rift. For many people, it provided an additional sense of security: many people that originally felt rather queasy while riding a rollercoaster noticed the effects vanish while using the Oculus Rift.

What makes the experience different from a typical 3-D motion simulator ride is that the imagery in the headset is completely in sync with the actual rollercoaster ride. This means that a rider’s “high tension” moment in the virtual reality will directly correspond to when the rider is plummeting down the rollercoaster. For example, while riders are “flying” among high-rise buildings, they’re actually going through the corkscrew turn of the rollercoaster in real-life. This in-sync virtual reality allows the rider to avoid feeling queasy while riding the rollercoaster, and also prevents any motion sickness or dizziness.

Virtual reality rollercoasters can even be closely simulated to the ride itself and provide a greater perception into the ride’s history. At a Six Flags in San Antonio, adventurers who board the new “Superman: Krypton Coaster Virtual Reality Coaster” are fully immersed in the comic-book world of Metropolis. Riders here can see the villains they have read about essentially personified and fighting right in front of them.

This spring, Six Flags will debut nine virtual reality roller coasters at its parks in Texas, Georgia, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and Montreal. For sure, this new innovation in virtual reality is guaranteed to entertain riders for generations. It seems like the saying “life can be a rollercoaster” might become “life can be a virtual rollercoaster”!

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