Vector VR is Figment’s own motion synchronisation and control platform for virtual reality. Primarily, its uses are in theme parks and other visitor attractions, but in some circumstances ambitious live events might also benefit from Vector VR.
Vector is based on an idea that originally saw us strapping mobile phones to our chests and whizzing around the studio on wheelie chairs. Before long we were lucky enough to test our fledgling system on a real, first class rollercoaster and now it has matured into the world’s first fully realised VR motion-sync system that delivers on real-world operational requirements. That means delivering solutions to ensure safety, address hygiene concerns, maintain throughput, and deliver an amazing guest experience at a realistic cost.
We are proud to announce that our first public Vector VR project is Galactica at Alton Towers. (The creative work for Galactica was developed through our long-standing relationship with Merlin Magic Making and we worked closely with the amazing Alton Towers team on the technical implementation).
Whilst its first application has been on rollercoasters, Vector isn’t limited to coasters. It can be used on any vehicle that follows a fixed/predictable path:
- AGVs (Automated Ground Vehicles)
- Pirate Ships (it’s a theme park thing)
- Drop Towers
- Entertainment Robots.
The control system architecture also enables us to operate individual and group controls for synchronised playback in:
- Live Events
- Virtual Reality Theatres.
From day one, our vision for Vector included two key features: to be mechanically independent of the ride and to use the same sensor for ‘recording and playback’. What does that mean? A recent example explains this best…
We were asked to create demo for a new client, so we put a sensor into our hand luggage and jumped on a plane. Within an hour of being in the theme park we had mapped the rollercoaster with our control sensor – the same sensor that could be used just hours later to give the client a live proof-of-concept with a demo scene in a VR headset.
Below is a simplified list of Vector’s key features, including the extras we’ve developed to enable a full operational roll-out.
- Mechanical independence from the ride vehicle
- Each rider’s control sensor includes a touch-screen, enabling hosts to modify the rider’s experience
- The control sensor can be fitted to the ride in an IP rated, custom-made box, or be mobile and independent of the ride vehicle. It can even be carried in a back-pack, so guests can have a separate VR experience pre and post ride
- High quality media playback featuring graphics which go well beyond traditional game-style visuals
- Individual rider control including subtitles, audio description and audio levels etc. via control pack touch-screen
- System-wide rider control including transmission of customised messages to individual riders via control room tablets
- Key safety features including custom head-straps, harnesses and tethers which keep guests safe on and off the ride
- Custom engineered hygiene solutions
- Battery packs enabling up to a full day of operation for every headset
- Off-ride charging solutions including bespoke powered cases for large numbers of batteries
- Off-ride storage solutions for headsets with built-in charging capabilities.
The Figment team partnered with some world-class companies to produce custom hardware engineering and fabric-based solutions as well as bespoke charging units and electronic components. Depending on the application, these are likely to need to be modified for each project, but our experience in this area means that timings and costs are easily predictable.