Sunday, August 1, 2021

The art of simulation

Stuart Hetherington Holovis 2013Stuart Hetherington, CEO of Holovis, has been engaged for the past 15 years in creating immersive virtual reality solutions to improve business efficiency and transform sensory experiences. Hetherington founded Holovis ten years ago and has worked to build global recognition for expertise in creating next generation immersive and engaging motion, media and interactive based rides driven by specialist real-time software and game-engine applications.
Ride development

Over the past two decades, the art of simulation has evolved and our industry has learned how powerful subtle motion can be when properly sychronized with the visual immersion. We’re creating better experiences that cater to all the senses in a connected way. A ride is most compelling if its component systems are applied with the correct experiential design at all stages – to put the story at the heart of the experience.

Interactivity is a key element that now can truly begin to live up to its promise thanks to technological advancements that have improved responsiveness, accuracy and control. Our company’s InterAct™ product is a case in point. Based on our background in industrial virtual reality and military training and simulation, InterAct™ is a software and hardware platform that works alongside our range of unique player devices to help achieve seamless, intuitive multi-player experiences in 2D and 3D synthetic worlds. This technology is now applied to any of the immersive systems, from flat screens to curved or our full 360° domes.

Holovis_InPark_EASImmersing the audience is key, either through 180° wrap around screens or 360° dome projections. When synched with subtle motion and other key sensory effects, this can be extremely powerful, making people feel like they have traveled much further than they actually have.

Domes or partial domes are increasingly popular for creating interactive theater environments because a dome literally surrounds the audience. And domes are a Holovis specialty when it comes to making an attraction come to life. If you visited the Holovis booth at the EAS or IAAPA trade shows last year, you had a chance to experience our demonstration of MotionDome™, an immersive motion based ride able to incorporate real time, responsive data and interaction within a fulldome environment, creating attractions where no two user experiences are the same, depending on the paths riders choose to take.

Being able to customize an experience to respond on the fly to the rider’s input and choices is one of those elements that today’s technology has brought to our fingertips. This is driven using another Holovis proprietary  technology  called  In-Mo™,  part of a suite of software modules that integrates  real-time  interactive  media  into  any  multi-channel immersive  display. The unpredictability and the chance to have a different experience each time stimulates ride repeatability for increased visitor engagement and higher throughput.

Scale model visualization

Virtual reality is not just a focus for the actual attractions, but something that we are also championing behind the scenes to visualize and facilitate design solutions. Our company’s RideView™ design and simulation software delivers an immersive VR environment enabling users to engage with any aspect of a park or attraction from the ride experience level to being able to explore an entire master plan layout through a 1:1 scale model/dataset.

Holovis_IDR CAVE_02RideView™ was created with the help of Holovis Directors with experience creating new VR solutions for R&D and testing in the automotive industry. It takes the CAD data from the ride designers and master planners and repurposes it for volumetric 3D viewing. Wearing head tracked 3D glasses, designers and engineers enter the Holovis VR CAVE environment, a structure with four or five rear-projected surfaces. There, rides can be experienced in real time and from any seat position, with different perspectives calibrated for varying heights and ages. Factors such as sight lines, eye points, ingress and egress around the ride envelope and load/unload issues, maintenance tasks to emergency evacuation testing can all be assessed and monitored.

This kind of pre-visualization is good for client relationships and is a time- and money-saver, accelerating the design process, reducing the number of physical prototypes needed and supporting decision making.  It also has applications for focus group assessment, and for testing in regard to health and safety requirements as well as operations and maintenance. Different layers can be added or subtracted including structures, utility services, HVAC systems, theming, media and lighting effects. This flags any potential design issues much quicker in the design cycle than on a CAD drawing and ensures everyone fully understands how something will look and feel. We see this technology becoming a core part of the design, engineering, simulation, testing and training process in the future.

At the 2014 EAS and IAAPA exhibitions Holovis will be launching The Lost Cove, the latest interactive, multi-player game title in its DomeRider™ series. • • •

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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