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A Virtual Vacation

September 25, 2014

In Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger took a virtual trip to Mars that nearly destroyed his brain. Now you can do the same.

Marriott TeleporterThis month, Marriott Hotels debuted The Teleporter, a virtual reality chamber, at two of its New York City properties. The TARDIS-esque box takes “travelers” on a quick, virtual journey to their choice of Hawaii or England, simply by stepping inside and putting on a pair of electronic goggles. After pushing a few buttons, they’re whisked from the lobby of their Marriott Hotel to a virtual recreation of…the lobby of a Marriott Hotel. At that point, they’re dumped out at a map on the virtual lobby’s wall, where they can choose to head to the top of London’s Tower 42 skyscraper, or a black-sand Maui beach.

Once they arrive at their destination, the traveler can’t do much other than enjoy the scenery. However, the design team at Framestore, the visual effects firm that created The Teleporter, did everything they could to make them feel like they’re experiencing the two locales for real.

In addition to enjoying a super-sharp, 360-degree view of both the beach and central London, The Teleporter also contains hidden devices that offer travelers a “4D” experience. Small fans recreate an island breeze in the Maui scene while gently spraying them with mist from its ocean waves. The Telepoter’s heat system quickly raises the temperature to 80 F while “scent dispensers” release tropical smells. The floor is even capable of making them feel like they’ve literally hit the sand when they first arrive. Length of a virtual trip: about 100 seconds.

While current technology limits what The Teleporter can do, there’s no telling what the device might be capable of pulling off in another decade or so. For example, let’s say you travel to the (actual) Caribbean but the weather isn’t behaving. Instead of mopping around a hotel bar, you could step into a Teleporter and enjoy an ideal day at the (fake) beach.

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