Samsung's 4D VR rides tilt you every which way -- including upside down -- as they simulate space racing and other demos. | Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
If you're going to soar over Sydney in a plane, don't wear a dress -- at least not if your flight is one of Samsung's wild 4D VR demos.
I learned that the hard way when I showed up this past week at the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES. I wanted to try out Samsung's demos that have seemingly endless lines of conference attendees, but I quickly found out that some of those demos have a dress code.
Samsung's made a huge push over the past couple years with its $99 Gear VR headset. You slide a newer Samsung phone into the headset, put it over your eyes and are instantly transported to new places. So far, there are 5 million Gear VR headsets in use globally, and people have watched more than 10 million hours of video in Gear VR.
To show people even more of what virtual reality can do, Samsung's been offering 4D VR rides at trade shows, its New York office and other venues that make you physically feel the virtual reality videos you're watching on a Gear VR. You strap on the VR device as you sit in a special seat that uses hydraulics to physically simulate the virtual twists and turns of a roller coaster or Santa's sleigh. You get jerked back and forth, making it feel like you're on a real ride.
When I and the rest of CNET's team tried the roller coaster simulation at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, it felt so real some of us couldn't help but scream as the roller coaster careened down the track.
Let me just say that Samsung's newest 4D VR rides make its roller coaster demo look downright tame. The problem with these new 4D rides is they sometimes, well, turn you upside down. That doesn't quite work with a dress (even with the blanket Samsung staffers offered me to help cover up).
A boat race simulation is the closest to the roller coaster, tilting you here and there as you speed through South Australia's Murray River. I started to duck virtual water splashes, forgetting for a moment that I wasn't actually on a 12-foot dinghy.
For the skeleton winter sports simulation, you lie flat on your stomach as a Samsung booth worker tightens a strap around your legs. Since I was wearing a skirt, this one was a little dicey. That's where the blanket came in. With this demo, you race 1,450 meters down a skeleton track in Vancouver, Canada. Since this was VR, I knew that I wasn't going to crash, but that didn't stop my heart rate from racing. I gripped the handlebars beside me tighter as the sled sped down the ice track.
The last two demos were out for me, at least with my current wardrobe. One, called air show, straps users into chairs that move every which way. You're a passenger on a high-powered stunt plane flying over Sydney harbor toward Bondi Beach. You're flipped upside down during an acrobatic air show above the beach.
The last moving ride -- space racing -- features three seats in a sort of gyroscope. The seats look more like actual roller coaster seating than something for a tech demo. Check out video from CNET's Brian Tong to see what that's like.
As for that flight over Sydney, I guess that will just have to wait. Next time, I'm wearing pants.