Riding a physical trike-bike in VR was one thrilling ride.
This past weekend at VRLA, the world’s largest virtual reality expo, Russia-based Interactive Lab showed off their latest VR demo where you physically navigated a tricycle through a Tron-like race track.
The same VR studio that brought us free roaming motion-captured Gear VR games back in May, spent two months developing this latest experience dubbed VReal Trike.
Tucked away in a dark corner of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the team built a custom electric trike equipped with an onboard computer that powered an Oculus Rift headset. The “racetrack” was surrounded by 22 motion-capture cameras that tracked the movement of the tricycle, steering and your head.
The entire experience was surreal. As you sit on top of a physical tricycle and don the Rift headset, your entire world transforms. You can still see the bike handles that you’re grasping (you hands aren’t tracked), but everything looks different. The empty concrete race space you were just in has now become a bright neon world straight out of the future.
It isn’t until you thumb down on the accelerator that the real magic manifests in front of you. The feeling of riding a trike through a figure eight track and watching your virtual handlebars respond to your physical steering is convincing. The physical sensation of real motion paired with the visual virtual world felt natural and put a huge grin on my face — excited for what lies in the future for VR ride experiences.
This year we’ve seen Six Flags amusement parks place Gear VR headsets on a number of roller coaster rides across the country, refreshing old rides with completely new IP, without ever having to lift a hammer. Even last month, Universal Orlando began testing an Incredible Hulk VR roller coaster at their theme park and Derren Brown opened their 58 user VR thrill ride called Ghost Train.
Even though VR rides may never match the physical sensations accompanied with moving rides, it can come close. But the beauty is that these virtual rides can be updated and changed, leaving room for any ride to be quickly customized and adapted to new intellectual property. And that’s what Interactive Lab is hoping to do with their trike demo, show what’s possible in just a short amount of development time and let our minds wonder what worlds we’d like to ride through next.