The “Space Needle VR” experience from ExpediaLabs features the ability to bungee off the Seattle landmark. (ExpediaLabs Image)
While he doesn’t wish for virtual reality to become a replacement for real travel, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said in the past that he thinks VR can help people research where to go and be inspired to take a trip.
If visiting Seattle’s Space Needle and even bungee jumping from the top of the iconic structure was on your must-see list, the first release from ExpediaLabs could help in that (partially unrealistic) endeavor.
“Space Needle VR” is available to experience via HTC Vive on Steam. It is a collaboration between Expedia, the Bellevue, Wash.-based travel company, and the Space Needle Group.
“The experience was created using the Unreal game engine and used a process of development similar to that employed often by game developers and architects for three dimensional structural visualizations,” Jaclyn Lake, lead VR developer for Expedia, said in a blog post.
Users can tour the iconic 605-foot structure and ride an elevator to the top — pretty standard fare for any tourist visiting the Emerald City. But access to the roof is where things turn into more than just sightseeing, as the option to bungee jump from a platform is included in the tour.
“As Seattle becomes a leading hub for virtual reality development, Expedia is making a point to experiment in the space,” said Arthur Chapin, the company’s SVP of global product and design. “While this is ExpediaLab’s first experimental project in the VR space, it comes in partnership with many other AI/Voice initiatives that we are aggressively working on.”