By Mudassir Raja
How you feel about virtual reality likely depends on a few factors. One, your history as a tech early adopter and two, your desire to spend time staring deeply into a screen with details, playing games and having an enhanced experience. Virtual reality makes impossible seemingly possible with details that are undoubtedly an extension of every major technology we use today. Simply by slipping on a headset of computerised glasses, viewers can be instantly transported to another place or time.
It might strike as a bit zany, but the exciting experience has a lot more to offer. Virtual reality (VR) section, set up at ongoing Summer Entertainment City (SEC) at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, is the centre of attention for the young lot as they experience simulation technology, brought for the first time in Qatar.
SEC is the biggest indoor entertainment activity currently ongoing in Qatar, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority in partnership with QSports, till August 31.
Although, there are many other attractions at SEC, including live mini zoo, eight holes mini-golf course, world’s largest bouncy castle, Summer Shopping Souq, and a driving school for young children, but VR technology protrudes as one of the most fascinating sections for the teens.
The organisers have dedicated 1,000 square metre area for the VR section that includes MMOne, a VR simulator machine first of its kind in Qatar as claimed by the organiser, a driving simulator, play stations, Ocular Rift and ACC VIVE headsets, said a specialist working with the project.
Talking about the VR attractions, Ayaz Mahmood Butt, In-charge VR section at SEC and VR specialist from UK, said, “It is the first of its kind in Qatar. The VR simulators are attracting young people. VR is actually infancy and not a lot of people have experienced the VR simulators before.”
Butt, who got education from UK, said, “A lot of people tend to take VR for 3D technology. Both are different. In the VR, you are actually in the environment. You are in the game. In 3D technology, you have a set of glasses or a TV screen. Here you actually wear a headset and sit in a seat to be a part of the ride or a game. For example, if you’re driving a racing car in VR technology, it’s so close to reality that you actually use side and back mirrors and move around as your car turns and bends. It becomes really immersive.”
Describing the experience of MMOne VR simulator, Butt said, “There are different versions that one can actually experience when sitting on it. You can ride a roller coaster, fly an aeroplane or drive a racing car. While riding the roller coaster, the person feels as if he or she is actually inside the coaster. In MMOne, the chair moves around in four directions along with up and down movements. So, one can actually feel the roller coaster troughs as the ride descends.”
He added, “A lot of people when they come out of the MMOne are surprised and shocked that how realistic it is. They say that they have not tried anything like this before. You have to experience it to understand what actually VR simulation is.”
Varun Dav, 3D artist and motion capture technician, takes care of the VR equipment at the SEC. He said, “I have been enjoying working with QSports. When it comes to adults, they get a bit scared. They fear they are going to fall from the machine, but kids, absolutely love it. They want to experience it again and again. We have got a really good response from public here.”
He added, “Visitors have keen eyes for the new technology in Qatar. The VR simulators will get more popularity as the people experience the technology at the summer city. We believe the trend will further flourish in the country.”
Hajar Ismael, a young girl from Sudan, soon after her simulation experience said, “It is amazing. You feel it is real. You live it. The roller coaster ride is awesome. The sound quality is extremely good. The vision is extraordinary and the way it flips 360 degrees is beyond words to completely describe my experience.”
The young girl added, “I have not experienced something like this before. I would love to enjoy it again and again.”
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