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TAIT Creates First Commercial Cable Coaster VR Simulator at National Geographic's Experience Mars

TAIT created the first commercial use of a cable coaster for the immersive activation of Experience Mars in New York City.

National Geographic Channel unveiled Experience Mars, a first-of-its-kind immersive activation, for "recruits" to experience Mars with TAIT's cable coaster virtual reality simulator.

Between October 26th and 29th, the corner of Canal and Varick streets in New York City were bustling with space enthusiasts, virtual reality bloggers, media influencers, and experience seekers vying for a spot to land on Mars. Once inside the Experience Mars, recruits climbed aboard the cable coaster virtual reality simulator and traversed the landscape of Mars prior to officially touching down.

"The cable coaster is a six-degrees of freedom rig which means it creates incredibly dynamic movement well beyond a traditional three-degree rig. The traditional 3D rigs have three axes of motion: up/down, left/right, backwards/forwards. With our six degrees of freedom rig, we take the same axes of motion from a 3D rig but we add an additional three; roll, pitch, and yaw. With six independent axes of motion our rig has the same motion characteristics of an airplane or a helicopter," shared Ben Gasper, TAIT's project manager, who worked closely on this project over the past five weeks. "Once we strapped the recruits in, they put their VR headsets on, which were accompanied by audio, and they were completely immersed in the world we provided. We were able to give not just the sense of flying: but also gravity, acceleration, and reverse thrust. It was more than just 'flying' to Mars, it was the full Mars Experience."

The cable coaster itself is a TAIT product that has been used in different capacities; however, as noted by Jim Shumway and Alex Serrano, TAIT's technical leads, the six degree of freedom rig (cable coaster) had never been combined with an immersive VR experience. TAIT, who was contacted by Production Glue to assist in National Geographic's immersive installation, has spent the past few years assimilating VR into their innovation process for internal purposes and external purposes. VR has been incredibly useful for their media team to create experiences to scale. Likewise, TAIT has designed projects and migrated them to VR for the client to experience what their customer or consumer will experience prior to the project being constructed.

The same process was implemented for the Experience Mars. With the integration of the cable coaster, VR, and content creation, TAIT continued to test and make incremental improvements based on feedback. The end result amounted to four days of over 1,200 recruits, from all over the world, experiencing the ride to Mars.

As Nadia Drake, a contributing writer for National Geographic shared, "[the] experience [will give you] a bit of what life on the Martian surface could be like -- starting with that all-important landing, which is simulated using a cable-suspended, two-seater robot, and virtual reality (VR) headset. It was glorious -- and way too short . . ."

From executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, MARS world premieres globally November 14 at 9:00pm ET/PT on National Geographic.



(2 November 2016)

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