At CES 2016 this year, there was no shortage of virtual reality experiences and hardware to try on the convention floor. Considering there were more than 170,000 in attendance, it was a challenge for companies to allow as many individuals experience virtual reality as they can with the limited amount of headsets and time.
This is where Samsung went big at CES and was the talk of the show floor.
The massive Samsung Gear VR theater booth was strategically located in the main North hallway of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Aside from the individual Gear VR demos that were showcasing content such as “Horror Maze” and “Surfing in Tahiti”, a long line of eager attendees were all waiting to take their seat on the “Wooden Roller Coaster” VR ride.
The roller coaster VR ride is setup as a semicircle of 36 movie theater like seats, all facing the main hallway as attendees walked by. Participants take their seat, strap on a seatbelt, and don a Gear VR headset. The VR experience starts up in unison with everyone else participating and you immediately find yourself sitting in the front row of a wooden roller coaster. The ride starts and you begin climbing a steep track, the seats are shaking and titling, you can turn your head and look down as the ground gets farther and farther away, everything exactly the way you would expect from an actual wooden coaster ride.
The entire experience is exhilarating and a perfect example of how powerful group synced virtual reality experiences can be. Whether or not you are sitting with friends, or complete strangers, shouting and screaming on the huge drops, with tilting and shaking seats, it all felt like the real thing. Or least your brain thought it was.
One thing is for sure. Samsung let thousands of people experience Gear VR, many of whom are trying virtual reality for the first time, leaving them in amazement and keeping the VR train moving full steam ahead.