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FlyHigh@Valtech

03. Juni 2019

Did you ever jump out of an airplane without a parachute? Probably not. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to read this.

However, we did and not just once but multiple times a day without any fear, as it was in a virtual reality. Sounds boring? It’s not! Because of the combination of VR and the feeling of a real flight inside the vertical wind tunnel of Indoor Skydiving Bottrop it felt like a real skydive.

Let’s start from the beginning. In this blog entry we will explain the idea, how we organized the event and what result we achieved in a 1-day hackathon.

In the beginning of 2018 we started a cooperation with Hochschule Düsseldorf (HSD). The University is close to our office in Düsseldorf, so we were able to organize some events with them, get in touch with professors and created the opportunity for students to work with us. Valtech always wants to benefit from the fresh open minded young talents as part of our innovative culture. They participated in the Valtech Research Lab that explores ideas and questions that need to be answered and researched.

One of those questions was “I read about the VR glasses Oculus Go and I want to know how it works and what might be possible”. So we started to investigate.

Besides that, Thomas Falkenberg our Students Coordinator and our HR Manager in Düsseldorf Joaquim Neumann sat together on a Friday afternoon after a meeting and talked about their plans for the weekend. Joaquim, who is a passionate skydiver, told Thomas, that he would be skydiving this weekend and Thomas said that it would be cool to program this in a virtual reality. Joaquim then told us that programming it in a virtual reality would not be enough for the feeling; but that it would be possible to use it in the indoor skydiving wind tunnel in Bottrop and that he always wanted to have a event there. With the Oculus Go technology from our Research Lab in mind and the idea of doing a hackathon as a recruiting event, we decided to combine these into one event: FlyHigh@Valtech – The virtual skydiving experience was born.

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From an idea to an event is a long way. We contacted Indoor Skydiving Bottrop, the HSD, and other universities nearby to promote the event. We built a registration website, organized rental devices (Laptops and VR Goggles) for developing and testing, and prepared them for the event. Besides the usual things that need to be organized like catering, drinks and some sugar for high concentrated brains, we also needed to be prepared for “unexpected things”. Have you ever heard about motion sickness? This is a common problem of VR experiences. Whenever the feeling of your body does not fit to what you see in the VR you are going to feel dizzy. Can you imagine this feeling inside of a vertical wind tunnel while air is passing by with a speed of 250km/h? We didn’t want to, so we ordered barf bags just to be prepared.

14 students, 1 professor, 12 hours, 250 km/h

The event itself was amazing. We had a full day of programming, flying and virtual reality, all of that structured by following an agile approach and the Scrum framework. 14 students, 1 professor, 12h time ended up in two new experiences of skydiving. The first one was a video of a real skydive extended by height and falling speed information. The second one was a virtual skydive from a spaceship onto the moon. You can see some impressions in the video on this page.

Sounds like fun? It was and because of the good feedback we got, we decided to continue this year with the same event. In addition to that, we were asked to present our solution on the 10 years anniversary press event of Indoor Skydiving Bottrop, where we presented the results that were promoted over different channels.

This created also an interesting opportunity for our business, when one of those videos was found by a potential customer of Valtech. They saw the Valtech branded Oculus go and contacted us to identify the possibility to work together on a final product.

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