Sensics Built A Mobile VR HMD For Theme Park Rides

Sensics announced that it’s breaking into the theme park industry with its latest VR headset, aptly named RideVR. The hardware designer partnered with VR Coaster to create a VR headset that meets the demands of the theme park industry.

Sensics’ RideVR HMD is largely based on the company’s pre-production Goggles for Public VR, which it revealed in late August. The RideVR headset retains the pre-production headset’s primary features, including the high-resolution 2880x1600 high-speed LCD display, the hypo-allergenic materials, and the internal cooling fans to keep the screens from fogging up.

"We combined VR Coaster's operational experience with Sensics' product expertise to meet the precise requirements of operators," said Yuval Boger, CEO of Sensics. "There is a gap between what consumer headsets deliver and what theme parks need. The new RideVR closes this gap."

The RideVR headset also takes advantage of Sensics’ modular design, which solves hygiene and throughput issues at the same time. The body of the Sensics RideVR HMD detaches from the head strap and face cushion, which allows ride staff to provide fresh headgear for each patron. After the ride, the head straps get tossed to the side for cleanup at the end of the day, like movie theaters do with 3D glasses.

As people wait for the attraction, they can put the head strap on and make fitment adjustments, so that they can hop on the ride and get going right away. Ride operators can also choose to tether the headsets to the attraction, to make it even easier for guests to prepare for the ride.

"Our work with dozens of theme parks led us to define exactly what we need from a great headset," said Thomas Wagner, CEO of VR Coaster. "We found the perfect partner in Sensics to work with us to create this headset."

Sensics’ Gogles for Public VR solved several problems for location based VR entertainment facilities, but it didn’t fully solve the problems that the VR theme park ride industry faced. Unlike a warehouse-scale VR attraction, it’s not practical to put a backpack PC onto someone who’s about to get onto a roller coaster. The RideVR HMD doesn’t require an external host computer to operate. It’s a standalone device with mobile-class processing hardware inside.

VR Coaster currently holds a patent for using mobile VR HMDs in theme park rides, and it uses modified GearVR headsets in its VR-enhanced rollercoaster attractions. A mobile solution was a must for the company, and a standalone device makes it much easier for theme park staff to manage because they don’t have to manage a fleet of smartphones to power the headsets. The RideVR HMD features a swappable battery system that enables ride operators to keep the headsets in use all day long.

Sensics didn't reveal the specifications of the mobile hardware, but the company confirmed that the RideVR headset would run Android and support Unity and Unreal Engine. The RideVR headsets also include a centralized content and device management system that allows operators to roll out software updates to an entire fleet of devices at once.

VR Coaster hasn’t yet deployed the Sensics RideVR HMDs. The company said that “select theme parks” would introduce attractions that use the RideVR headset in early 2018.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.