‘Therapeutic’ rides

‘Therapeutic’ rides

25 June 2019 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ by Aldo Avancini /

When attractions become similar to medical experiences.

Ing. Aldo Avancini / Proposta Srl

Given that the physical principles that manage the stresses generated by an attraction on a guest’s body have been widely tested, new applications are being sought after in the leisure sector that can generate the right ‘feeling’; applications that in some cases are ‘borderline’, that is, they are not actually attractions and indeed are not much different from augmented and virtual reality and so on, which are based on controlled manipulation, i.e. actuators controlled by increasingly refined electronics. 

However, I believe that not many people in the various technical departments have thought of implications or applications in the field of healthcare! In a very broad sense, even what are solely tourist applications may somehow fall into this category. I am referring, for example, to the Grand Canyon Skywalk in Arizona, as well as 340m high terrace on the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, which, being both made from glass, allow visitors to “walk on the void”, so that even those who suffer from heights can gain confidence by taking advantage of this possibility, which is certainly uncommon. I believe this field is open to exploration, even if the work required is certainly technical and not simply public relations. The engineering approach is neither the first nor the most highly considered (and when I say approach, I am not referring to major studies, in my opinion much less would suffice).

Gran Canyon Skywalk, Arizona

I want to mention here the research conducted by a US university that has built kidneys from synthetic materials and then filled them with a solution similar to human urine, including some kidney stones (stones of various sizes). Volunteers, wearing backpacks containing the aforementioned organ-like devices, had several rides on various types of roller coasters. The experiment made it possible to draft a report which shows that best results for passing kidney stones (or better, to help them pass) were obtained on roller coasters with significant dynamics, but without inversions, and that passing of the stones is facilitated by sitting in the back rows. These are over 4 times more efficient than the front rows. This is also indirect confirmation that in the back rows, the acceleration is much stronger than in the front rows: a concept commonly known to technicians, but much less to users, who confuse the wind in their hair with accelerations.

Much more simply but certainly closer to many current situations, without going into detailed descriptions I also want to mention a prototype aimed at treating some very common phobias, such as the fear of spiders, scorpions, snakes, etc. This prototype, which I don’t believe has been further developed, comprised 3 screens (2 on the sides and one at the front), showing in sync a walk in the desert (or in the savannah or in any other environment), and a small treadmill (just like those used in gyms), with the speed synchronised with the images. All inside a box where, to increase immersion in the experience, the environmental conditions of the film (temperature and humidity) were also reproduced. 

What went on inside? The guest who suffered from a fear of snakes ‘walked’ on the treadmill, while the screen showed the desert environment at first inanimate, then with a snake moving in the distance, and then another snake sliding alongside, then another closer and so on… at progressively higher frequency, underlining how it is possible to get used to the view. It was even proposed that on exiting this pseudo-medical attraction there would be a section of transparent flooring, underneath which were living snakes, just to complete the experience.

I cannot imagine what kind of guest could be attracted to such a solution, perhaps more for people who want to overcome a problem than a guest looking for fun, but like everything this too can be the object of reflection.

Taken from Games&Parks Industry June 2019, page 84

Ing. Aldo Avancini /  Proposta Srl / proposta_design@yahoo.it