23 Feb 2018 | Digital editions, magazines, websites, e-zines, handbooks and contract publishing for the leisure industry

Spa Opportunities issue 287, 2018 is now out!


Spa Opportunities bloggers:

Liz Terry
Leisure Media

Kate Cracknell
Health Club Management

Katie Barnes
Managing Editor,
Spa Business

Lisa Starr
Senior Consultant,
Wynne Business

Anna Bjurstam
Raison d'Etre

Dieter Buchner
Founding Partner,
Urban Healing

Jean-Guy de Gabriac
Founder/ CEO,
Tip Touch Academie

Marisa Dimitriadis
Managing Director,
The Spa Consultants

Anni Hood
Kis Lifestyle Group

Jane Scrivner
Managing Director,
Jane Scrivner

Staying ahead

02 Mar 2016
by Liz Terry, CEO, Leisure Media
Every sector, from museums to theme parks, needs to tackle the tech challenge in its own way

After decades of crazy inventions being the stuff of sci-fi, this year marks the point where they hit the mainstream, with affordable tech coming to market in everything from VR to drones, robots and augmented reality. We need to grab it with both hands, figure it out and make it our own.

Visitors expect their attractions experiences to be more astonishing, exciting, immersive, engaging and high-end than anything they can get at home or simply buy for themselves off the shelf.

This has always been a fundamental challenge for attractions, and as consumer electronics suppliers push out evermore sophisticated products at evermore affordable prices, the competition is accelerating, intensifying and shape-shifting.

All operators need to take a view on this – where do you stand on technology? How will you harness it, how will you pay for it, how will you integrate it into your attraction in an effective, appropriate way to enhance the entire experience?

New tech is coming at us thick and fast in all areas from VR to augmented reality, robots, holograms, drones, beacons, Internet of Things sensors and micro-controllers. Many of these inventions, products and ideas are not new, but are moving from being concepts to practical, affordable and implementable options.

VR tech is advancing so rapidly, for example, that some very cool tools will be available at entry-level prices within a year, including VR functionality on smart phones. This means we’ll see competition emerging in the most unexpected places.

And other tech is coming on-stream fast. Only last month, real-time holographic American football was announced for Microsoft’s HoloLens, enabling fans to watch games live as holograms, replay them and even be among the action. This means we’ll be competing even more directly with the sports market than at present, unless we move to collaborate.

Also making fast progress is emerging tech giant Magic Leap, which just scored another round of funding – US$800m – for further development of its augmented reality lightfield device (see Attractions Management 2016 issue 1
page 32). This will have amazing applications for museums and science centres when it’s brought to market.
Every sector – from museums to theme parks – needs to tackle the challenge its own way, but the one thing industry experts agree on is the importance of keeping up with change.

Speaking at the Museum Tech conference recently (see Attractions Management 2016 issue 1 page 32), a Museum Association panel of experts told delegates “risks must be taken to develop new technologies, with those playing it safe risking getting left behind.” They advocated testing tech within attractions environments and committing wholeheartedly to innovation.

There’s a role for sleight of hand in some applications: by combining VR with existing rollercoasters, the world’s leading theme parks are reskinning existing attractions and creating new ones within tight budgets: Universal Studios Japan has added VR to an existing coaster as part of its ‘Cool Japan’ pop-up attraction, while Alton Towers is gearing up for the relaunch of its Air rollercoaster as Galactica, a space-themed VR ride. Nine more VR coasters are expected to open this year as parks tap into this ‘software refresher’ for rides.

So it’s not just about buying in the latest tech, we need to be creative with the application and make it our own to stay competitive and continue to meet the expectations of visitors.

Read Attractions Management 2016 issue 1 online

Tags: Attractions Management  heritage & museums  theme & waterparks  arts & culture  visitor attractions 

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