Visitors to Nissan's stand at this year's Paris Motor Show (which runs until the 19th of October at the Porte de Versailles) will be able to take part in a unique new virtual reality experience, brought to life by a combination of the new Oculus Rift headset and a humble treadmill. The experience , called “Chase The Thrill,” is a collaboration between London-based production company Unit9 and D2NA/DigitasLBi France, and sees guests taking control of a rollerblading robot, bringing to life the key features of the new Nissan Juke and (according to its creators) pushing virtual reality to its limits.
Nissan - “Tested to Thrill”
The concept was inspired by the Nissan Juke TV ad (above). DigitasLBi creative director, Jean-Baptise Burdin said “It came out of discussions with TBWA for a 360 degree campaign for the Nissan Juke.” He said together, they “Saw an opportunity to create an experience for people to feel the excitement of driving and set out to do so an innovative way that would really get their hearts beating,” he chose they chose Unit9 as a partner on the project, because of not only their experience working with virtual reality, but because of their directors, who Burdin said, “Understand both interactivity and storytelling--two skills which are hard to find combined.”
“Chase The Thrill” is a collaboration between London-based production company Unit9 and D2NA/DigitasLBi France, and sees guests taking control of a rollerblading robot
The experience works by utilising the Oculus Rift VR headset alongside an omnidirectional treadmill platform and specially designed shoes that are connected to a series of sensors which pick up the users movements. The user is then transported (virtually, of course) into the body of a rollerblading android chasing after a Nissan Juke. Henry Cowling, creative director of Unit9's VR division said “The vision was for a Blade Runner-esque simulated city environment that would pick up cues taken from the TV ad, such as the distinctive red neon,” and adds that “The android itself is inspired by the design of the car with elements of the brand and model an integral part of its DNA.” Director Gevorg Karensky worked closely with the team to develop storyboards, which plotted the key moments of the experience. DigitasLBi senior copywriter Anthony Banks, said “The thought process was more like a game's development than a script for TV," and added “You have to think beyond the emotional response to create a whole world, to decide the path the player will take through that world, their role within it, including what form they will take with what abilities and how they will interact with it.”
Nissan - “Chase the Thrill”
There were numerous technical challenges to overcome, such as making sure motion sickness wasn't an issue, developing wearables to create a more immersive experience and modifying the existing WizDisk treadmill devices in order to meet the requirements of the experience, but everyone involved feels that the results were more than worth the effort. Nissan Europe's head of events, Thomas Rodier said “People come to motor shows to discover new concepts and get excited about the future,” and feels that “Chase the Thrill,” gives people “A taste of the future of gaming and interactivity.” Unit9, meanwhile feel that advances in VR could have implications far beyond gaming. Cowling believes that “If, as an industry, we unlock the potential of VR then we will swiftly see it become it as important as the TV commercial.”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK who had a go on an Oculus Rift set a few months ago and found it exhilarating, but exhausting.