#unraceable Virtual Reality Simulator
Unraceable is the name of a virtual reality motionseat project and App that I managed for three years.
The idea has been to enhance showrooms and build something that gives people an emotional experience.
The main campaign spot of “Audi #unraceable”
The requirement should be an improvement to the “Audi Sandbox”, which was produced by Audi Norway, as you can see in the following video.
The first milestone of the product had a strict timeline and demanded that customers build their race-track in a sandbox, which gets scanned, and finally transferred to a virtual reality motion seat.
The “Audi Sandbox” had the problem, that it did not feature a motion seat and the “scanning” process has been mostly manual and took a lot of time. As the project should be presented at a fair, the scanning process could only take a maximum of some minutes, which means a new automated way to create this track had to be found.
For the project, we worked together with a partner and experimented with several ways to make this idea become reality. For the scanning, an Xbox Kinect has been chosen, as it can both scan depth imagery (3D topography), as well as the color 2D image of the track. With this information, a map was generated in seconds (reducing complexity for time), and together with object scanning from the 2D image data objects could be placed on the 3D map as well.
To fulfill the motion seat part, we scouted several solutions and finally decided to go with a 6 DOF motion simulator produced in the Czech republic. As it has not been equipped with Virtual Reality, the VR technology had to be fitted onto it.
This poses a huge problem, as traditional trackers are irritated by the motion seat-movement, as they can not distinguish if the head or the seat is moving. A customized solution was needed and involved fitting another tracker to the seat, and calculating the spacial difference of the seat, base stations and VR glasses in realtime. As VR glasses the HTC Vive has been chosen, as it offered the best resolution at that time. But a huge problem in VR is lag. If calculations of the scene take too long, and the image is slightly delayed to the movement of the motion seat, people feel motion-sick. This phenomenon is often called “virtual reality sickness” or “cybersickness“. Therefore, the next steps involved trying several techniques to reduce motion sickness.
#unraceable has been featured in several magazines, and even appeared in “Austria’s Next Topmodel” as a challenge.
At the final fair, #unraceable has been a great success and offered the production of several other milestones.
In the following year, it even appeared in a modified version at the worldwide “Formula E” traveling around the globe together with team “Audi Sport ABT”.
Milestone 2: #unraceable App and Quattro-Challenge
The previous success allowed for further development of the project and an App should be produced to reach a broader mass. The idea has been, that four skiing stars (Quattro, like the “Audi Quattro”) should each build a track, which was then to be raced by gamers around the globe, with the final winner winning an Audi A1 for a year.
The track should be both playable on the simulator, as well as the app itself. Several changes were needed to achieve this, especially porting a high-quality VR game to a mobile game which only allows for limited resources. Several anti-cheat mechanisms had to be implemented, and new data privacy challenges had to be solved. In the end, the app had been downloaded more than 30’000 times reaching a review of 4,3/5 stars.
As a link to the car configurator of Audi had been integrated into the game, an enormous conversion rate has been achieved as almost 50% of gamers opened the car configurator at least once.
Milestone 3: #unraceable Ski-Challenge
The next step has been to cooperate with the Austrian Skiing Association (https://www.oesv.at/) and build something similar to the former “Skiing Challenge” that experienced great success in the past years. But the task has been to not simply emulate this success but to build something new. The idea was to drive up the skiing track (Hahnenkamm) with an Audi e-Tron (in similarity to the then Audi e-Tron spot where it drives up a skiing track like in the first “Quattro” spot) and then drive it down again using a skier. Again the app has been downloaded more than 30’000 times and is still being played today.