D-Box Motion Code Seats at Galaxy Highland - Bring the Dramamine
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This past Wednesday I attended a reception held by D-Box Motion Code and the Galaxy Highland 20 Theaters in Austin celebrating the installation of twenty D-Box motion seats in one of the theater's auditoriums. The seats use three motors and "intelligent vibrations" to bring a new element to movie watching: coordinated motion and vibrations timed to the picture's soundtrack. The result is something like those flight simulator rides at amusement parks (MGM's Star Tours comes to mind), which use the power of visual suggestion combined with motion to convey a moderately intense physical experience.
The reception included both a standalone demo unit (the two seats pictured together) and a full-immersion experience using about fifteen minutes of the new film Terminator: Salvation. While the seats deliver the expected bumps and rolls during explosions and car chases, there are a few more subtle touches that I actually found quite clever. When one character starts a car, the seat vibrates slightly to the purr of the engine while the characters hold a conversation. When the trademark Terminator soundtrack (you know, the one with the persistent percussion) arrives, the seat knocks you about in time to the tune. And while the seat never moves more than ten or fifteen degrees off horizontal (not even enough to spill the drink in the thoughtfully provided steel-ringed cup holders), turning the seat up to its "high" setting could prove exhausting if you were to sit through an extended action flick. (There are four settings: off, low, medium, and high.) This is more than just "shaky seats," however -- the motion coding really follows the action on screen and the overall experience is quite satisfying.
So far only two theatrical releases have been given the D-Box treatment: Fast and Furious and Terminator: Salvation. Personally I'd like to be thrown out of the captain's chair during Star Trek, but nobody in Hollywood listens to me anyway so it's not like they're going to start now.
At present D-Box isn't divulging how much the seats cost to install; according to the CTO and marketing director present, the theater bears the cost of upgrading the theater infrastructure and D-Box installs the seats themselves, and then they split the additional $8 per seat revenue on top of the ticket price. That extra cost doesn't seem to be dissuading customers, however. The motion seat tickets to Terminator: Salvation are apparently sold out through the weekend. (Check their site to make sure.) I may go back for the full experience myself.
As an aside, D-Box apparently began business in high-end home theaters. They claim to have a thousand movies already motion-encoded if you're willing to shell out the approximately $10,000 required to buy a home system, and the system works with some PC games as well.
Visit the Galaxy Highland website to buy D-Box tickets for Terminator: Salvation.