Virtual reality hot air balloon ride lets you feel the heat when triggering the burner

Dallas based production studio Janimation has recently announced the completion of its Virtual Reality Hot Air Balloon Ride, an immersive, interactive experience that takes virtual reality several steps further by stimulating the rider’s senses of sight, sound and touch.

The VR Hot Air Balloon Ride promises not just breathtaking views of massive canyons and snow-covered Alaskan peaks, but also the radiant heat felt from triggering the balloon’s virtual burner. The ride mimics a real balloon flight in ways that must be experienced to be believed.

“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. I want to ride it again!” exclaimed Arturo Caldron, CEO of Advanced Design Center.

“The ride merges mechanical, physical and digital technologies to provide the rider with the most realistic flight possible. For example, the burner valve trigger regulates the rate of propane released in order to increase or decrease the balloons altitude. The team even focused on details like the altimeter and variometer – both of which communicate with the Unreal Engine that powers the graphics to create real-time flight feedback. In addition, we engineered Arduinos – open-source computer hardware – to bridge the gap between game and reality.”, explained Janimation’s CEO and CCO, Steve Gaçonnier.

“We picture this going into anywhere that enjoys offering cutting-edge entertainment,” offered Gaçonnier “From the Dave & Buster’s of the world to Six Flags all the way to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.” While the existing “flights” last around three minutes each, any length is possible depending on what the client wants. The environment can also just as easily be rendered as a fantasy world like Middle Earth, or an intergalactic planet light years away. “We’ve also had several interesting ideas for other vehicles these experiences can be built around,” said Gaçonnier. “Regarding the headset technology, we chose HTC as our partner due to the Vive’s tracker technology. The Vive Tracker allowed the VR Balloon basket to be tracked independently of the headset allowing a true 1:1 experience,” added Gaçonnier.

As one would expect with a digital experience, even the UX is customizable. An “easy” mode can move patrons through the line efficiently and with simple instructions. While an “advanced” setting could allow the user more control over where the balloon goes – even into, for example, a thunderstorm. An “expert” mode could take you to the Jurassic era and require balloon pilots to “keep an eye on the controls to keep the balloon from crashing, while simultaneously eradicating velociraptors on the ground and flying pterosaurs in the sky, using the VR Shotgun we have also developed for the Vive,” suggested Gaçonnier. “And if you want zombies, we have that mod ready too.”

The Virtual Reality Hot Air Balloon Ride is ready for customization and installation today. Interested parties should contact Janimation for pricing, availability and options.