Doors and representations, inside and outside.

As 2017 comes to an end, a reflection on doors closing and opening. Turning 65 this year, I can  now travel slightly cheaper on trains and local buses, but it also hints to a countdown to the closing door at 67.

For the Resource centre 2017 has opened wider the doors to research on representations of motion, including virtual reality.

hissningen_0.0_0.4Research,  representations and roller coasters

Following the appointment in April of 2017, Urban Eriksson as a researcher at the NRCF, two PhD students have been added to the Resource centre, with preliminary projects focusing on various representations (“semiotic resources”) used in physics teaching and learning. As part of the preparation, I have looked into various ways or representing the motion of the family ride Hissningen at Liseberg (and the sister rides Lyktan at Gröna Lund and Stjernetårnet at Tivoli Gardens).

As Liseberg is building the new roller coaster Valkyria, simulations have provided doors to sneak previews into the ride, as seen when you ride it: as POV movie or in Virtual Reality, complementing the few images so far available on the liseberg.se/valkyria. A  moving chair made the Valkyria VR experience even more real, even if the variation in the force from the chair acting on you is restricted to changes in angle.

helix_timelineAs I am always curious about the forces in roller coasters arising from the accelerations as the train moves along the track – and how these can be used as examples to support physics learning. The limited footage available for Valkyria reminded me of my special desires for photo angles.

To clarify my wishes, at least to myself, I created a timeline for the Helix roller coaster, based on elevation data from a ride, with small images from the various elements seen from outside. I then realised that raw html technology from the mid-90’s made it possible to let each image be a door to exercises related to that element, advent calendar style. I also discovered that, over the years since Helix opened, I had collected short video clips for most of the elements, that teachers could let students use for video analysis. (See the resulting “calendar“)

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Can Virtual Reality experiences of rides support learning?

This question will be explored next year, as part of a collaboration with Malcolm Burt, who pursues a PhD investigating what makes for ideal virtual reality amusement rides. As part of the School Program of the 2018 Gothenburg International Science festival , five classes will have a chance to try out our “Virtual Theme Park”, giving us valuable feedback on how to proceed.

Of course, a virtual reality in a classroom cannot make you experience seconds of weightlessness or feeling much heavier than usual, but since most children in the larger Gothenburg region have experience with many different amusement rides, we hope that they can recall the experience. To help them make connection to the physics learned in school, force representations will be added in an augmented reality version.daemonen_rain

In October, we experienced many types of VR, not only at Liseberg, but also at The Derren Brown Ghost Train in Thorpe Park, the large three-dimensional representation of the universe in “All we are” at the Visualiseringsscenter C in Norrköping. We also tried the  Dæmon VR at Tivoli gardens (where we were amused to find that we both for a split second thought that we wouldn’t be able to see anything with the rain covers on the VR glasses). With much joy I recall the VRcoaster encounter, discussed in an earlier post.

With a December glimpse through the Helix track onto the Liseberg Rabbit Land, I wish you all a …

happy_new_year_2018

 

 

 

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Roller coaster realities

I love roller coasters. I love the feeling of forces acting on me and within my whole body, and being able to connect the real physical experience with analysis of measurements, maths, drawings, photos, videos and observations. Still, I found the Virtual reality (VR) coaster to be absolutely amazing, even standing on the ground in the Mack Rides stand at EAS15, when I reflected on the development From VR caves to augmented roller coaster reality. And I was not the only one. The numbers of VR coasters and simulations seems to have exploded between EAS16 and EAS15. In this post, I reflect on a few different realities from the EAS16 in Barcelona.

Virtual reality experiences

During the last afternoon of EAS16, I made a point of trying as many of the 3D virtual coaster experiences as possible, (skipping anything that involved shooting). I think I have to appoint the ride with Dante through Inferno at the RedRaion booth as my favourite among those I tried – a long ride, with many things happening along the way, and I could easily imagine that it would be even more amazing if the simulator chair had been replaced by a small roller coaster.

A close second would be the renewed encounter with the Kolmården Wildfire as a 3D movie experience from MovEmotions, even without the moving seats.

For fun, I also took my phone along in one virtual coasters, to collect accelerometer data using the Physics Toolbox Suite, well aware that a virtual heartline roll would not show up in the data – and the graph is too boring to show.dof

Having come that far in my reflections on the built-in shortcoming of virtual coasters, I discovered the robot-VR, where even the heartline roll would feel real. The queues were long, and I still have slightly queasy memories from Tom Tits science centre close to Stockholm where I rode all 6 programs of the rotor (without VR glasses), followed by a tour in the Rotor – all with a WDSS for data taking.

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Augmented reality

Combining a small real roller coaster with virtual reality opens many new possibilities for story telling – I could well imagine Dante’s Inferno tour being used like that to give a completely amazing experience. In these cases, the real experience is enhanced – augmented by the visual feed through the glasses

In a session Renew and revitalize – it doesn’t always have to be new Peggy Vereld from Bobbejaanland told about the VR addition to convert an existing coaster Revolution to a new scary immersive experience Mount Mara, and how it was received by guests as a truly new experience. For increased flow in the summertime, they were running alternating versions, both with and without the VR glasses.

Artificial realities.

Having read all the Asterix books, I love visiting Parc Asterix, discovering all the little quirky details bringing the 2D images from the book to an inspiring 3D reality.

I also love the way desingers create new environments, mixing authentic historical tools with creative imagination, as e.g. in the Kållerado or Mechanica at Liseberg or the Wildfire at Kolmården.

However, I was really frustrated by a long talk at the EAS16, which was more of a sales pitch about how to make the TeleTubbies into an artifical 3D world, with lots of merchandise to sell. The learning claims related to the program seem to be somewhat dubious, as discussed e.g. in an early analysis: “The fact that children like something, or parents think they do, does not mean that it is educational, or even good for them. Children like candy, too.” Later research investigated whether young children could learn vocabulary from TV, and found little supporting evidence.

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Har Kupers, Vekoma, during the Safety Institute

Biomechanical realitiesdavid_portaventura

Before the opening of the EAS, I took part in the Safety Institute at the PortAventura world. A fascinating day, with quite a lot of enjoyable technical detail. The only disappointment was that I missed out on riding any of the coasters.  I participated following a recommendation by David Eager (who did manage to sneak away to ride the Shambhala). We had the joy during EAS16 to have our second joint paper (Beyond velority and acceleration: jerk, snap and higher derivatives) accepted in the European Journal of Physics (Our first, on Trampolines, was selected as one of the highlights 2015 in Physics Education.)

Economical realities

In a fascinating session Renew and revitalize – it doesn’t always have to be new, Jakob Wahl talked about how Europa Park encouraged people to multiple visits, e.g. by expanding the number of seasons, and thematic weeks and Peggy Verels from Bobbejaanland talked about  the benefits of adding VR to an existing coaster .

In a long afternoon session The Art of Storytelling and Creation, with New and Existing IP Margreet Papamichael started by showing numbers for different parks and brands, showing how parks benefited from Multi-gated resources (where additional gates could, e.g., be another park, a hotel, a water park or a conference center) and indications that entertainment value – price per hours that guests are paying/willing to pay – increased with more “gates”.

Numbers are always fascinating, and I also recall with much joy a talk from EAS15, where Pieter Cornelis demonstrated that it was possible to make quantitative models on return of investments in roller coasters and other rides.

Economic realities also influence educational programs, that come in many different shapes, as discussed in the session on The A to Z of B2B: How to Develop Edutainment Opportunities.

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From VR caves to augmented roller coaster reality

VRcoasterThe tradeshow floor of the Euro Attractions Show, EAS 2015, that took place in Gothenburg 6-8 October, featured many examples of how the 3D and Virtual Reality techniques have developed. Most easily visible were the large number of fast cars and shooting attractions. Gaming, weather forecasts and movies remain among the uses that push the requirements for computing capacity. The incredible increase in computing power, is illustrated e.g. in the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest computers. This development makes possible better and better calculations, e.g. for roller coasters, but also enables completely new applications, where creativity combines advanced technologies from very different fields, such as the VR coaster where Augmented Reality meets real roller coasters. Continue reading