Marriott Hotels just took “armchair tourism” to a whole new level.
As part of its “Travel Brilliantly” campaign, the hospitality company commissioned the construction of telephone booth-like structures equipped with the Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headgear and powered by Framestore 4D software. The Teleporter devices immerse users in a sensory experience meant to simulate transportation to another part of the world.
To further the sensory overload, Marriott also commissioned experiential marketing agency Relevent to outfit the structures with heat lamps, mist sprayers, wind blowers and a moving floor, to make it feel like you’re really on a Hawaiian beach or dangling over the edge of a London skyscraper, the two locations you visit during your 100-second journey.
Users start in a swanky hotel lobby. No people are visible, though you can hear chatter and the sounds of cocktails being made at the bar. Then you're sucked into the topographic map of the Hawaiian Islands on the wall.
When you land on Maui’s Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach, the Teleporter’s spray fans and wind blowers kick into action, giving you the sensations of wind in your hair and sea spray on your face. But before you get too comfortable, off you go to the top of Tower 42, the second-tallest skyscraper in London, with city sounds and city wind blowing all around you.
This is what the London scene looks like: (Story continues below.)
And this is what users look like when they experience this virtual teleportation:
The Teleporters' 100-second virtual-reality experience took three months of on-location filming, production and design to produce, but reviews have been lukewarm.
The best that FastCompany's Co.Exist’s Jessica Leber said about it was that it didn’t make her nauseous. Gizmodo's Darren Orf called it a “weird holodeck" and concluded that "[f]or true immersion, VR will eventually have to transcend 1080p [resolution]. It does a fine job of making a beach, London tower, or boozy lounge feel immersive but being able to spot pixels will always keep me from thinking its real."
While it's doubtful the Teleporters will replace traditional travel any time soon, they could become a part of your vacation experience.
"We’re considering what it means for in-room entertainment,” as Marriott's vice president of global brand marketing, Michael Dail, put it.
If you’re itching to try it yourself, the Teleporters are on an eight-city tour, presumably not teleporting themselves around:
- Sept. 19-23: New York Marriott Marquis
- Sept. 26-29: Boston Marriott Cambridge
- Oct. 2-5: Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C.
- Oct. 9-12: Atlanta Marriott Marquis
- Oct. 17-20: Dallas Marriott City Center
- Oct. 24-27: San Diego Marriott Marquis
- Nov. 6-9: San Jose Marriott
- Nov. 13-16: San Francisco Marriott Marquis