Tom Cruise lied and told me I’d feel like I was floating in zero gravity.
OK, Cruise didn’t really lie to me IRL, but he did in VR, after I strapped on an Oculus Rift VR headset and sat down in a Positron Voyager VR cinema chair to try out the The Mummy: Zero Gravity VR Experience at SXSW 2017.
The Positron Voyager was introduced at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Like all immersive theater chairs — you know, like those 4D movie chairs that rock back and forth to make you feel every explosion — the Voyager promises to make you feel like you’re in the movie.
The key differences between the Voyager, which resembles an egg chair from the 1960s, and existing 4D seats is that it’s designed just for VR movies and it likely won’t give you motion sickness.
At least, I didn’t feel the slightest bit sick during my “ride,” and neither did my colleague Karissa Bell.
The cinema room I sat in contained 20 Voyager seats, and as you’d expect from a “VR theater”, once you’ve got a headset on your face and over your eyes, you’re completely cut off from the outside.
And while most VR content encourages you to look in all directions, the Voyager’s semi-contained enclosure mainly guides your attention to what’s directly in front of you — more like a regular movie.
Sure, you could look behind you, but it’s not really comfortable to do so in the chairs. Turning around to look behind you also means being blasted by the Subpac haptic speakers that are built into the back cushions.
As smooth as the Voyager’s mechanical motion was, I was extremely disappointed in The Mummy: Zero Gravity VR Experience. The behind-the-scenes VR experience left me wanting more — a lot more.
After putting on the Rift headset, Cruise builds excitement and anticipation, telling you you’re gonna feel like you’re floating in zero gravity with him and The Mummy co-star Annabelle Wallis as the Hercules plane you’re in falls out of the sky.
The only problem was, I never felt like I was in a plummeting plane, nor did I feel weightless — not even the slightest. I just felt closer to the screen — like I was watching a movie in IMAX.