Welcome to the stage: Virtual Skydive

By: Nick Wake: Marketing Director, iFLY UK

According to Mark Bridge, writing in the Times recently, virtual reality headsets could become the opera glasses of the 21st century, allowing concert goers at the back of the auditorium, with the help of a VR (virtual reality) headset, to take a front row seat, or even jump on stage with the band! If our recent experience is anything to go by, we think he could be on to something.

Virtual reality headsets have been available for consumer purchase for some time and, with the help of apps, bands including Coldplay have already performed to audiences around the world, who were virtually transported to the best vantage points inside the live venue.

Facebook is getting in on the act. Mark Zuckerberg announced last week that his company would create virtual reality venues next year to enable people to watch live concerts and other events around the world, with their friends. Facebook’s Occulus subsidiary is also launching a standalone Occulus Go headset, priced at $199, as part of its stated aim to get a billion people using the technology.

Augusto Esteves, a VR expert at Edinburgh recently carried out an experiment where some participants at the back of a concert hall, fitted with 360-degree cameras, were given VR headsets. Compared with customers in the same seats without headsets, the VR wearers reported a significantly enhanced concert experience.

This mirrors our own findings with iFLY 360 Virtual Reality which we have piloted at our vertical wind tunnel in Milton Keynes. Users, many of whom would never consider jumping out of a plane, are sensing just what it’s like to do an actual skydive, as their headset transports them to 12,000 feet over the English countryside. The skydiver in front of them disappears out the door and the next second, you are following them. There they are flying in front and then all around you.

Adrian was one of the first flyers to experience the new product and he was literally and metaphorically blown away: “Absolutely amazing. You feel really safe, but get all the adrenaline you can take. Just great”

With the product now rolling out to our centres in Manchester and Basingstoke and the promise of new and different landscapes to ‘virtually dive’, we are as excited about the prospects for this technology, as the rest of the leisure industry. The virtual skydive has well and truly arrived.

Want to know more? Check out the video.