Diving into Edutainment with VR
Theme parks, family entertainment centers, and other entertainment-based attractions have experimented with and adopted virtual reality (VR) technologies in the past few years to add an exciting element to their experiences. Now aquariums, zoos, science centers, and museums are tapping into VR’s edutainment potential.
Immotion Group of Manchester, England, an immersive out-of-home VR business, has created cutting-edge VR experiences that are educational as well as entertaining. Recently, after a successful trial in two Legoland Discovery Centers, Immotion significantly expanded its relationship with Merlin Entertainments and will roll out its VR Cinematic Platform to the majority of the remaining centers. Also, the agreement has been extended to cover trials in three Merlin Sea Life Centers—one in Germany and two in Australia—and, depending on the trial results, across more of the 49 Sea Life Centers worldwide.
Immotion’s latest release, “Swimming with Humpbacks,” is the first installment of its Blue Ocean Aquarium series. Jeff Hester, a leading free-diving cinematographer, successfully filmed in live-action VR a pod of humpback whales in the Kingdom of Tonga on migration from Antarctica. The VR video is being shown at several attractions around the globe, including the Santa Barbara Zoo in California and Sea Life Centers in Oberhausen, Germany, and Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.
“Going beyond wildlife experiences, Immotion is set to widen their offerings to thrilling ways to experience science, history, and the natural world.”
—Martin Higginson, Immotion CEO
“Humpback whales are notoriously difficult to film up close as they are disturbed by ordinary scuba diving bubbles,” says Immotion CEO Martin Higginson. “Immotion used a team of expert free-divers and leading marine biologists who dove for up to four minutes with no scuba apparatus so that oxygen tanks did not create bubbles. This allowed for some incredible scenes to be captured. This unique footage included breathtaking scenes, such as a mother giving birth and bonding with her calf during the very first moments of life.”
Now zoos, aquariums, and museums are using such VR experiences to educate their visitors and sometimes advance their quest for conservation. “Going beyond wildlife experiences, Immotion is set to widen their offerings to thrilling ways to experience science, history, and the natural world,” says Higginson. “True edutainment, which cannot be achieved at home, is something that makes this technology so unique and exciting.”