If imaginary flying is what takes your fancy then you’ll have to fly (pun intended) to Zurich, just to experience the vomit-inducing delight of the Birdly interaction platform a dedicated team of flight enthusiasts/researchers has prepared for you. The setting is quite simple and straightforward, an awkward perch modified to suit your bodily flight, an Oculus Rift strapped across your eyeholes and a picturesque pasture projected into them as you flap your “wings” and FLY.
As seen in the demo video above, you sprawl yourself across the modified bed and literally fly by exercising your arms. The gadgetry is hooked up via several wires to the Oculus Rift VR headset, to give you a birds eye view of what to expect when you soar like a bird. Two things are pretty obvious, if you have a bad back or vertigo – stay away; and this flight needs an iron stomach to digest the nauseous maneuvers and unexpected head movements.
Inspired by the Red Kite, the flapping body platform translates your movements of the flight and depending upon your speed and energy levels the headwinds intensity corresponds. To keep it as realistic as possible, the scenery is teamed with audio cues and environmental smells. For example if you are flying above a cowshed, you are sure to hear a couple of moos and smell the cow dung too – yikes! Ok, seriously though, the preloaded olfactory stimulations include scent of a forest, soil, to many other odors of the wilderness.
In essence, as you fly above different computer-generated landscapes, you are treated to diverse flight simulations and experiences. Created by a team at Zurich University of the Arts in collaboration with the BirdLife-Naturzentrum Neeracherried, the goal of the installation is to capture a mediated flying experience by attempting to personify a bird rather than simply controlling a machine. Birdly depends upon the sensory-motor coupling to deliver this experience; the simulation is completely controlled by the hands and arms – in short the wings and the primary feathers of the bird. So if you really want to know how does it feel to fly… head over to Zurich, as this art instillation is stationed over there.