IAAPA Expo Asia - From The Floor
Robotic VR Space Travel
Space travelers on the KUKA KR 600 Terrastella Task Four needn’t worry about losing focus.
“We track the goggles during the ride, so from every position, we know if a passenger is a little bit ahead or behind the motion. Our system detects it and brings passengers back on track for the VR (virtual reality) movie,” explained BEC Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Martin Gerlich. The company’s ride development software helps prevent motion sickness and creates a motion path without latency.
The KUKA KR 600 Passenger has an expanded rider capacity with a new three-seater system. Each shell is cast in iron. Without welded structures, maintenance and certification are both easier. The mobile event system fits in a single 20-foot container and takes one day to assemble.
“KUKA and BEC’s focus has largely been on large theme parks and high-capacity rides. But with the system we have here, we now have an offering that’s perfect for smaller parks and family entertainment centers (FECs) in the China market,” added KUKA Entertainment Sales Director Michael Beaupre. Pricing starts at $300,000.
DOF Robotics’ VR Rides
Some of the longest lines on the trade show floor this year were for DOF Robotics’ Hurricane VR and Supernova VR. The former, which rotates 360 degrees, won an IAAPA Brass Ring for Best New Product in 2016, and has since been updated.
“It is the highest level of simulation technology,” said DOF Robotics CEO Bakit Baydaliev. “Hurricane has very high speeds, high acceleration, and very smooth moments. It means that in all our simulations, we don’t have motion sickness, which is very important for everybody.” Baydaliev says his company has also perfected Hurricane’s loading and unloading system.
The four-seat Hurricane VR, which costs $180,000, including thematic covering and a package of 10 VR movies, has been particularly popular with FECs. Several simulators can be installed together to create flying theaters.
Supernova VR is similar to Hurricane but does not rotate in a full circle. Both rides can also be installed in dome theaters, with or without VR glasses.
Dynamic Attractions and China’s Jialong Parks Sign Agreement for Nine Rides
During a formal ceremony on the trade show floor, Dynamic Attractions and Jialong Parks signed a letter of intent for the ride manufacturer to provide up to nine ride systems for the attractions group. Jialong Parks has locations in development in Chengdu, Beijing, Qin Huangdao, Fujian, and Hainan. Dynamic Attractions’ rides will be the marquee pieces of each park.
“Every Jialong Park is designed to provide exceptional experiences for guests,” said Fu ShuQuan, chairman, Jialong Tourism Group, in a statement. “Our rides and attractions will have a level of sophistication, technology, and entertainment that is unlike anything ever seen before in these regions.”
Extreme Engineering’s Funicular Coaster
In response to customer demand, Extreme Engineering has transformed its award-winning suspended roller coaster, the Cloud Coaster, into a people mover.
“It’s a response to the need to move large amounts of people in a fun way,” explained the company’s founder and CEO, Jeff Wilson. “The reason this works for this system is that each cart has its own independent, redundant braking system, much like a real train. So, you can just keep adding carts, and it doesn’t overload the braking system. It’s very simple in concept but an important change in how the product is used.”
Unlike cable cars or funiculars that travel in a straight line, Extreme Engineering’s Funicular Coaster can follow the terrain around features like trees, waterfalls, and mountainsides. The new system will first be deployed in an attraction in Dalat, Vietnam, with construction beginning next year.
FRS Max-D Interactive
Beijing-based Flourishing Animation Technology (FRS) has launched a new interactive theater that integrates a motion-based system, 4D effects, and gaming technology. More than 40 players can compete simultaneously on one screen.
With six branches and two endings, each player’s experience is unique, even in the same game. Individual pods integrate effects—light, music, and wind—and facilitate game and dynamic synchronization.
FRS said it provides “Canadian quality standards” with “a Chinese price tag.” A 40-seater theater, for example, costs less than $1.5 million. The company has a joint venture with a technology team in Canada and imports parts from Europe and North America.
“All this new technology is designed by our company. We have 100% copyright for it,” explained FRS Chief Business Officer Weitao Liu. “Quality is the key to our products. We don’t want customers coming back to us after six months saying seats are cracked or guns are damaged. We want them to keep using [our products] for as long as possible.”
Sit in a harness, buckle up, put on a headset, then prepare yourself to paraglide!
The ride itself has a small footprint, just 2.5 meters by 2.8 meters. Riders are raised about 4 meters in the real world but enter a virtual mountainous environment at 3,000 feet, where they search for rings to score points. Riders use handles to control the virtual flight and fly in any direction they want. An air accelerator blows wind into their face.
“It’s highly repeatable, addictive, and something that people want to continue to play to get better,” explained the ride’s inventor, Matt Wells, who is also co-founder and CEO of Frontgrid.
Frontgrid is also working with Thailand’s King Power to launch a citywide virtual flying experience.
Gateway Ticketing System’s latest solution, Galaxy Connect, makes it possible for an attraction to connect to any number of online travel agents with a single integration, eliminating costly and time-consuming links with individual ticket sellers.
Galaxy Connect also eliminates paper vouchers, which means guests can skip the ticketing window and proceed directly to the gate.
Sales are done in real time, so unlike legacy systems, attractions no longer need to allocate an allotment of tickets to each travel agent. Galaxy Connect links directly to an attraction’s database, pulling out capacity as needed.
“Our customers are using Galaxy Connect to be China-ready,” said Gateway’s Steve Bell. “In Asia, up to 60% of tickets are sold in advance, so this product is super critical to make that as seamless as possible.”
Chinese attractions can now more easily sell tickets to overseas visitors, just as Chinese tourists can use popular ticketing platforms like Ctrip to buy tickets to attractions in North America.
Shanghai Innovation Center
From its booth on the trade show floor, Holovis promoted the debut of its new Shanghai Innovation Center, built in collaboration with KingJoy.
Visitors to the five-floor complex are greeted by an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven concierge that uses speech and facial recognition to screen guests and notify their host. In a nearby hallway, videos on three screens are customized based on a guest’s industry and reason for visiting.
The center features two immersive environments for visualizing and testing attractions.
Inside a five-sided holographic Holovis CAVE (automatic virtual environment), Holovis’ RideView software enables users, wearing head-traced glasses, to simulate and test all aspects of a master plan or ride. Users, for example, can determine whether all guests, tall or short, have an optimum and safe experience, no matter where they sit in an attraction.
A free-roaming VR space on the same floor features a Holovis HVR system that allows for global collaboration in real time.
KingJoy, which became a Holovis shareholder last year, is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Road King Infrastructure.
Gamifying Water Parks
Make a mistake, lose the game . . . and you’ll get wet! Polin Waterparks’ latest products are gamifying the water park experience.
VR Splash Cabin feels like a virtual paintball game, except you’re also steering a boat on a river, and each time a character from the virtual world hits you, you actually get wet. The nozzle can be customized so it sprays a mist or shoots like a water gun. The 80,000-euro product has a small footprint, just 3.8 meters by 3.6 meters.
Splash Bucket is an interactive game to see who has the fastest reaction. Players must stretch, kneel, and reach to tap colorful buttons as soon as they are lit, all the while dodging water blasts. At the end of the game, the loser is doused with water.
“When people play a game together, all of a sudden, every barrier disappears. You just find yourself like a kid, playing and opening your heart. This brings a different atmosphere to a water park,” said Sohret Pakis, Polin Waterparks director of marketing and communications, who notes that Polin has a research and development unit focused solely on integrating technology into water parks through gamification.
Is that blond DJ spinning techno tunes, with a furry blue coat and headphone to her ear, real or robotic?
Expogoers were left scratching their heads as they watched DJ Sally groove to the music. The animatronic figure was custom-designed for IAAPA Expo Asia 2019 and is an homage to the robot that launched Sally Corporation 42 years ago. She’s also a woman of steel, with a plastic and steel understructure, silicon skin, and real human hair. DJ Sally’s pneumatic movements are programmed in a 45-minute loop with a digital control system. Her price tag: about $60,000.
In addition to animatronics, Sally Corporation is known for its dark rides. The company currently has four projects in China that will open within the next few years
“We are amazed at the amount of opportunities here in Asia that we’ve been made aware of during the Expo,” said Sally Corporation Creative Director Rich Hill. “Looks like Sally is going to be in Asia building dark rides for quite a while.”
Meet BILLIE the Barista, a fully automated robot that makes espresso and hot or iced Americano beverages. BILLIE’s left arm grinds the beans and extracts espresso with a consistent flavor. It then passes the espresso to its right arm to add ice or hot water.
BILLIE is designed to work with a human, who adds flavors for custom orders and directly serves customers.
It took South Korea’s Sangwha a year to develop the robot barista. “The most difficult part was making really nice coffee, the same as a human would make,” said Sangwha Senior Manager Steve Choi. Another challenge was developing a coffeepot the robot arm could easily pick up.
In the attractions space, Sangwha has been known for innovative VR robotic rides. The development of BILLIE and a self-contained robot kiosk called EDDIE are enabling the company to branch out into food and beverage as well.
Flying 4D Experience
Price, content, and design. SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment believes these three features make its redesigned flying theater stand out from the competition.
“We felt we had to be one-third the cost of the competitors for us to look a client in the eye and say, ‘You’re going to get a return on the investment,’” explained SimEx-Iwerks Chairman and CEO Michael Needham. “That was our ambition, and we achieved it.”
In addition to a library of 4D films that includes “Wonder Woman,” “Man of Steel,” “Ice Age,” and other popular intellectual properties, SimEx-Iwerks is currently producing three original movies: “Flying Across America,” “Flying Across the World,” and a stunt film, “Flying Wild.”
The Flying 4D Experience now features a prescreen that initially blocks guests’ view of the main cinema. Theatergoers are propelled into the screen, which rises up. Guests’ legs are left dangling. While some clients want large theaters, Needham notes that most attractions prefer 40 to 60 seats, split over two or three tiers.
Immersive Super Flume
United Kingdom-based Simworx has combined a log flume with one of the company’s most popular attractions, the Immersive Tunnel, to create a new ride that debuts in Indonesia this year.
In a tunnel section of the flume, carts are fixed to a motion-based platform surrounded by a video screen that is nearly 360 degrees (minus the entrance). Here, they are taken on an adventure of the park’s choosing. The lift section of the flume ride can also be outfitted with video to hide the fact that the flume cars are being raised.
“It was quite a challenge to make sure the screens were waterproof and that the water didn’t project onto the screens via the projection,” said Simworx Creative Designer Matt Clarkson. “It’s quite a unique idea really. We’ve been playing around with different ideas on how we could add our immersive technology to different rides, and this felt like a really good fit.”
WhiteWater’s Upcoming Projects in Asia
At a media conference on the trade show floor, WhiteWater highlighted a dozen projects in China and several others in Southeast Asia to demonstrate that its business in the region is solid.
“There’s a lot of talk about things slowing down in China,” noted Una de Boer, WhiteWater director of global marketing and strategy. “But the world-class parks, the big players, they’re still building and growing.”
WhiteWater has five major openings in China this year, including projects with OCT in Nanchang and Shunde, plus full water parks and spinning rapids rides in Wuxi Sunac and Guangzhou Sunac. WhiteWater’s Orbiter, a family raft ride with a 360-degree loop, will enter the China market in 2020. Orbiter won a second-place IAAPA Brass Ring Award last year for Best New Product Concept.
“2018 was our best year ever for Asia-Pacific sales, and 2019 is on target to be a great year as well,” said Doug Smith, WhiteWater’s executive vice president, Asia-Pacific.
The inventors of the SlideWheel are back, this time with a ride that combines the thrill of a launch coaster with the excitement of a high-speed water slide.
Forget about climbing stairs or carrying a raft. Instead, a patent-pending launch mechanism quickly accelerates a custom-designed, two-person raft to 50 kph. That means at the top of the slide, rafters are already going fast, instead of starting from zero.
“The unique thing is the SlideCoaster can bring a very high, controlled acceleration into the water slide,” explained Frank Helmes of Up & Down Engineering, which is collaborating with wiegand.waterrides on the ride. The most challenging part of the design, according to Helmes, was ensuring a solid, tight connection between the catch car and the raft.
The SlideCoaster can be part of both wet and dry parks. It has a capacity of 720 riders per hour and is priced from 2.5 million euros. Future designs may incorporate more than one launch.