A Journey to the New Frontier (Sundance 2020) pt. 3

Digitas

A Journey to the New Frontier (Sundance 2020) pt. 3

Keith Soljacich

Sometimes in this business, you get a sense that you are meshing advertising technology wonderment with Willy Wonka-like fantasy.  And yet, when the two worlds come together, you see something so cool that you want to include it in your everyday work.  Such is the case with the technology showed here.

Spaced Out – Pyaré, BallastVR.

Spaced Out is an aquatic VR experience, inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing, created Pyaré and powered by the BallastVR system.  You begin by securing a weight belt that anchors your body in the water to simulate weightlessness.  Next, you strap on a waterproof VR headset and snorkel to submerge your head and body slightly under water.  From here, the experience starts with you floating in space that leads to an immersive, stylized fever dream approach to the moon’s surface tracking just above the Apollo 11 moon lander, all the while listening to the archive radio transmissions between the astronauts to Houston. 

For me, about sixty seconds in to the 9-minute experience I was mentally free and didn’t need to think about keeping myself afloat or breathing.  The technology had wrapped me in a virtual space suit and took me for a ride.  One of the most impactful and revenue-generating uses for VR tech today is in location-based entertainment.  BallastVR is now offering these underwater immersive experiences to guests at Kalahari water parks for $20/session.  That’s a really smart and easy way to further monetize your existing infrastructure.

Talk about an immersive experience! 

Imagine if a sporting goods brand like Speedo or Under Armour wanted to show a customer what it was like to be an Olympic swimmer—and the customer was immersed in an experience of swimming a 400M freestyle race.  You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t be intrigued to try it—and you couldn’t tell me that you wouldn’t be more inclined to buy a swimsuit, pair of goggles or other gear because you felt like “you were there.”  Sign me up, and if you know Michael Phelps, I am totally game for a lesson or two.

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