Gigabyte stole the show for VR at Computex 2017 with their 720° Motion Stimulator. Pocket-lint managed to charm their way into a try and it was every bit as cool as it looks.
The Gigabyte VR 720° has two axis which each allow 360° rotation, hence the name. The freestanding structure weighs in at a whopping 800kg and lets you play Redout by 34 Big Things which is described on Steampowered as "a tribute to the old racing monsters … uncompromising, fast, tough and satisfying driving experience, soaked in that vertigo that stands at the core of the arcade racing genre." Sounds spot on for a machine like the 720° doesn't it?
It was a great choice, the pumping music really added to the adrenaline that we quickly discovered starts to flow through your system when you hop into the 720° for the first time.
We have to say we felt very secure in the 720°, the familiar amusement park ride style harness and the slide-in footstraps were reassuring. Although interestingly the actual safety feature turned out to be the lapbelt - if it's not engaged nothing will start.
There was a joystick to the right which we were prewarned was very sensitive. This was joy to our ears because we intended to go to the most extreme tilts possible. With the speakers behind our heads pumping we set off along the 'track'.
Fans mounted in the front provided a realistic breeze which increased in intensity as we picked up speed. We tilted as far as we could to the right. They weren’t kidding about the joystick sensitivity. We continued along our merry way trying our best to get the 720° into some great angles rather than to win a medal for our gaming skill. The sensation was exhilarating when we tipped and yet felt entirely secure.
When there were 'jumps' the music calmed down to accompany the slo-mo and you felt pretty floaty before racing off again when you hit the track. Gigabyte explained they chose Redout because there isn't a user controlled forward or back motion that they considered might have been a bit much for a general-public non-gaming crowd. It was a sensible decision and a solid choice and it did allow us to get a feel for the capabilities of the 720°.
Overall we were totally impressed with the 720° experience. To be honest the adrenaline was still pumping - causing shakey hands when we were trying to take notes - three or four minutes after getting off, although Alan "Alpha" Liang (Starcraft commentator) who has been working on the development team says that Gigabyte are not quite satisfied yet.
The project has been running for around 8 months so far and the company still considers it still a work in progress as there are tweaks that they would like to enact before it is market ready. Liang, speaking to Pocket-lint, gave us plenty of examples of work to be done, like resituating the joystick so that it is central for a more realistic flying experience, making the fans more delicate and so on.
Of course the experience doesn't come cheap for those looking to install one in their home. The 720° VR can be yours for around $30,000, but we are sure that there is going to be no shortage of commercial buyers. Liang estimates that we could see it start to pop up in the UK around September time.
Keep your eyes peeled because it is a hell of a ride.