Take a Ride in this VR Hot Air Balloon

Combining the mechanical, physical and virtual, a new VR hot air balloon ride allows for a realistic in-flight experience.

Hopping in a wicker basket and floating away like The Wizard of Oz no longer need be an unrealistic dream—Janimation, a Dallas-based animation company has created a virtual experience making that dream a reality.

Users are placed in a mock wicker basket that is held over the ground and can move and swing with the experience on the headset. This is complemented with wind, temperature changes, and scents.

“It’s amazing how I experienced that feeling in my stomach that I get from heights. The feel of the heat and wind was also amazing,” Arturo Caldron, CEO of Advanced Design Center said of the launch of the new hot air balloon experience.

The experience is similar to the Disney Epcot theme park ride, “Soarin’“— the user feels the movement as a gorgeous landscape unfolds beneath them.

However, with this experience, users will be allowed to customize it with three modes: easy, advanced and expert. These different skill levels allow the user more opportunity to control the experience in the face of potential weather hardships or to explore a greater realm of the map.

“Expert” sends you into a Jurassic era that asks you to fight off dinosaurs. And Janimation’s CEO and CCO Steve Gaçonnier said a zombie mode could be coming soon.

According to Gaçonnier, the hope is the hot air balloon experience could be an entertainment experience “from the Dave & Buster’s of the world to Six Flags all the way to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.”

But Janimation is also looking at how the experience could be useful in the tourism and hospitality industry as a less expensive alternative to marketing events like media tours and FAM (familiarization) events.

The hot air balloon experience could travel to trade fairs and provide users with customized experiences of a tourist hotspot like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

“Virtual reality equipment is close to becoming mainstream but VR isn’t enough,” said Ryan Thompson, CEO of Odyssey, who partnered with Janimation to create the experience. “Introducing physical aspects into the experience—creating mixed reality—is truly the closest substitute for being there.”

But transporting the mechanical basket into your home may be a challenge, thankfully other VR creators have also created their own experiences allowing you to virtually soar in a hot air balloon from your smartphone.

About the Scout

Allison Hollender

Allison is a Bay Area journalist reporting for VRScout. Follow her attempts at jokes @alleyrenee16.

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