Virtual reality continues to gain attention from different sides of the industry and consumer experience seems to be the universal target.
Six Flags, which partnered with Samsung to create the first VR roller coaster this past spring, is adding eight new virtual reality-equipped rides next month, which also include interactive elements.
The Rage of the Gargoyles attraction uses Samsung Gear VR headsets to immerse riders in a virtual environment where they act as the pilot of an apache helicopter in a battle against flying gargoyles destroying a city.
All of the physical motion of the roller coaster is aligned with the motion of the helicopter in the virtual world, and the interactive components are driven by head tracking capabilities from the sensors in the headsets.
Riders control their weapons by moving their head to lock in on a target gargoyle, which triggers the weapons to automatically fire. This encourages riders to keep their hands on the lap bar.
In addition to enabling more immersive experiences, virtual reality brings agility to developing new products for Six Flags, according to President and CEO John Duffey.
“The guest response to the virtual reality coasters at our parks has been outstanding,” Duffey said.
“One of the most exciting things about this technology is that we have the ability to change the storylines to offer our guests new thrills and new reasons to visit our parks.”
This initiative also helps expose more consumers to virtual reality as a concept, which is a key component of Samsung’s mission, according to Marc Mathieu, CMO of Samsung Electronics America.
“More and more people will get to experience VR for the first time through this totally unique and immersive experience,” Mathieu said.
Expanding the base of virtual reality is a shared mission in other parts of the country as well.
Ohio entertainment center Scene75 opens its first virtual reality arcade this Friday, which offers 10 HTC Vive virtual reality systems running 15 different games and experiences that can be booked in 10, 30, and 60-minute intervals.
The primary goal behind the project is to bring VR to general consumers, not just gamers or tech enthusiasts, according to the company.
"After playing virtual reality for the first time, I instantly believed that it would be the next big thing,” said Eric Stammen, technical manager for Scene75.
“It was just a question of how are we going to create an opportunity for people to experience VR at Scene75."
For consumers with the equipment to view VR content, more live sports and music content is coming. Virtual reality live streaming platform NextVR just raised $80 million to further expand live VR capabilities.
The platform has already provided live VR streaming for Live Nation concerts and major sporting events for Fox Sports.