You can paint VR elements in real time into your immersive driving story.
As more brands continue to experiment with VR, the experiences seem to get more polished and sophisticated as time goes on. Solely covering this space over the years, we know it wasn’t too long ago that an automotive VR event activation usually just included a simulated driving 360° video experience — maybe if you were lucky — a rumbling chair too.
Fast forward to this week at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, and it’s clear that Toyota brought their VR developer A game for the west coast debut of the all-new Toyota Prius Prime.
Setup in a futuristic looking booth during the conference, Toyota took what could have been a basic VR driving demo experience and instead made an immersive event out of it. The automaker decided to mix in a world recognized visual architect with an Emmy-award winning director and then added their own 3D VR painting tool to create what is being called “The Impossible Quest” VR experience.
Toyota tapped Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, the automaker’s advertising agency, to create the experience. After a quick e-mail signup, the experience begins with you donning a HTC VIVE headset and painting in a 3D space. It’s a very limited version of Tilt Brush, but you can still go nuts painting with creative freedom, utilizing a few different brush types, whatever your heart desires.
In fact, the original plan was to actually use Tilt Brush, but Saatchi & Saatchi LA ran into issues when exporting the art created by users. So they decided to custom-build their own 3D design tool for the event, with the tool becoming an integral part of the 4D VR ride experience towards the end.
After you complete your master piece with this simple 3D painting tool, you’re then shown into a driver’s seat where you again strap on a VIVE headset. The seat has no pedals, but there is an actual steering wheel from the Prius Prime itself that you can rest your hands on. From here the VR drive experience begins as you slowly roll into an animated world featuring a variety of stunning landscapes, all while your seat moves to the motion of your virtual journey.
These virtual landscapes are the inspired work of Syd Mead (the visual futurist on Tron and Blade Runner), with a story by Emmy-award winner Jason Zada of MediaMonks, who directed the feature film “The Forest” and is responsible for the pop-culture phenomenon “Take This Lollipop” and “Elf Yourself.” Reminiscent of LucasArts game Full Throttle, the VR driving experience portion took close to two months to build and takes you on a spectacular car chase with people attempting to shoot you off the road.
There are little additions like air haptics, letting you feel air blowing when the “air conditioner” in your virtual car gets flipped on. In the end, you escape the villains and open a briefcase handed to you earlier in the story, unveiling the 3D painting you worked so hard in the beginning of this demo. As your personal painting rises in the air like a giant monument, a crowd gathers and begins to cheer. You have completed your impossible quest.
For the most part, Toyota and their partners created a unique VR experience. With the added element of the real-time user-generated content integration, The Impossible Quest was more than what was expected. And for consumers who tried out the experience, a new road has been paved for what they will expect from brands to be delivered in the future.
Image Credit: Toyota / VRScout
Additional Reporting by Stephen Ip