Emotional rollercoasters

Nottingham University’s Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL) and design house Aerial have been awarded £87,892 to develop thrill rides that can respond to human emotions.


NottinghamUniversity’s Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL) and design house Aerial have been awarded £87,892 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop thrill rides that can respond to human emotions.



Initial research will focus on developing real-time systems for monitoring and interpreting rider physiology, with the ultimate goal of creating rides that can automatically adapt to each rider’s experience.



Aerial recently hosted the Thrill Laboratory events at the ScienceMuseum in London and AltonTowers, which featured experiments developed with MRL. These involved strapping riders to monitoring equipment to reveal emotions while riding on the ‘Oblivion’ rollercoaster.



The MRL is a studio facility where academics at the university collaborate to explore the potential of the latest mobile technology. Biofeedback and recording technology allows physiological data to be monitored during a ride, including video of faces, audio, heart rate, galvanic skin response and acceleration.



The partners will trial different technologies to collect data across different types of rides and attractions at AltonTowers who are supporting the research. They will work closely with psychologists at NottinghamUniversity to analyse the results they find and will be joined by RoboCoaster to identify future potential ride applications.



It is hoped the research will help to design and build a demonstrator ride to highlight the possibilities such technologies might offer. The partners also plan to offer rider data and monitoring techniques as a resource for designers of extreme experiences in other sectors of the entertainment industry.



Professor Steve Benford, NottinghamUniversity and co-founder of the MRL, said: ‘People are no longer willing to be passive consumers of experiences, but rather expect to be able to interact, explore, participate, shape, share and discuss them.’