AT360: Beyond location-based entertainment
Last year, we wrote about the unique gyroscopic VR attraction, the AT360, developed by Jacksonville-based EnterIdeas Group. First appearing at IAAPA in 2019, the attraction is self-described by the company as a “compact, looping VR roller coaster”. However, according to VP of Business Development at EnterIdeas, Dennis Voronin, people simply call it: “the crazy, spinning ball thing”. By watching the video below, you may understand why that is:
Its three axes allow for motion in any direction with a high g-force measure that has made it sought-after by government and educational institutions beyond its market positioning in the location-based entertainment (LBE) space. After being mesmerized by its great curb appeal, onlookers often ask what’s inside the HP Reverb G2 headset. The company did not provide a connected screen during the Amusement Expo in March, for example, in order to “generate a sense of mystery”, according to Voronin.
But what is inside the headset? The experience contains an adapted version of a futuristic hoverbike ride, titled V-Racer, by French developers, Judiva. The company’s next track is titled “The DogeCoaster“, a psychedelic experience which will mimic the ups and downs of Dogecoin’s price chart. An official release date has not yet been set, although according to industry thought leader, consultant and Spider Entertainment co-founder, Kevin Williams, it is set for a 2022 release.
As with any attraction, and especially the thrilling nature of the AT360, a principal concern is safety. According to ride safety consultant, Brian Avery, “there is no federal oversight for fixed site amusement park rides“, and an industry trend has been to de-rank safety in favor of throughput and higher profits. When asked about the position of EnterIdeas Group on the topic of safety, CEO, Igor Mendzebrovskiy stated:
An automated sensor-based safety system: “Six Degrees of Safety”
No, not the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation starring Will Smith. The Six Degrees of Safety is a set of sensors (currently 8 and growing) that automatizes the process of safety from beginning to end. The sensors are placed at various points in and around the attraction to capture signals that automatically stop the ride should anything deviate from the norm. While standard amusement rides rely on safety belts and latching systems, EnterIdeas’ AT360 version takes it to more than six different layers on top of the safety belt and latching mechanism with its sensors.
Every sensor controls the various stages that the user goes through from the moment the AT360 is first seen by the user, to the moment he or she walks out of the safety area and tells their friends about the experience. Mendzebrovskiy has confirmed that every AT360 includes the system for both location-based entertainment and peripheral versions of the device. Courtesy of EnterIdeas, the system is highlighted below:
- Perimeter monitoring sensor: This sensor is placed on the barrier to prevent any user from entering. If any deviations from the norm are identified, the AT360 stops turning and returns to its neutral position if it is in use.
- Weight plate sensor: The user stands on a scale before entering the attraction to ensure they meet the minimum and maximum weight requirements.
- Game area sensor: Provide space control directly in the places of rotating parts. It is installed on both sides of the attraction.
- Seatbelt sensor: The seatbelt sensor checks the locking mechanism in the seatbelt.
- Safety arc sensor: The same mechanism as the seatbelt sensor for the safety arc.
- Seat sensor: The seat sensor identifies whether a user is seated or not.
Voronin has also confirmed that two additional sensors are included in the system:
- VR headset sensor: Identifies whether the VR headset is placed on the head of the user. If it is removed at any time during the game session, the AT360 is brought back to a neutral position.
- Foothold sensor: The foothold sensors make sure that the feet are maintained firmly in position during the game session.
Maximum safety while dampening the effects of an industry problem: lack of operators and labor costs
The location-based entertainment industry, according to an IAAPA report (the largest international amusements & attractions industry organization), has suffered from a lack of operators, training and retention of employees in recent years. While aware of this issue, Mendzebrovskiy has reaffirmed that the Six Degrees of Safety system dampens this problem significantly as the SDS utilizes a simple tablet-linked interface.
If it wasn’t for the classification of the AT360 being an “arcadified” ride, the user could practically enter and leave the attraction without an operator. However, oversight by an operator is our “seventh” degree of safety, falling in line with ASTM standards. The human touch could actually provide a greater experience if the operator is skilled at entertaining guests.Igor Mendzebrovskiy – CEO of EnterIdeas Group
The system was first demonstrated at the Amusement Expo 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to Voronin, attendees were impressed by SDS, but at times comments appeared confirming the recent trend by ride safety expert, Brian Avery; “profits seemed to be valued more than safety as concerns were more about losing money when the game stopped instead of seeing the beautiful efficacy of the system”.
EnterIdeas Group is set to continue developing the system to such an advanced degree that it would allow the AT360 to become an arcade machine without an operator.
“That’s the end goal”, Mendzebrovskiy stated.
EnterIdeas Group is a company based in Jacksonville, Florida, specializing in hi-tech engineering, manufacturing and design in the segments of entertainment, medicine and artificial intelligence. It is currently ranked among the most prominent software and engineering startups in the wider Florida region. It has a sister manufacturing company, Pilot Industrial Production (PIP).