The leisure industry has long leveraged technology to entertain. You might say it started with the first sound recording on the phonograph machine in 1877. Motion pictures came several years later, but it wasn’t until the late 1920’s, nearly 50 years after the introduction of a sound recording, that two technologies were combined and movies with sound - called “Talkies” were introduced.
Today, new technologies designed for entertainment are being introduced at lightning speed. We, the consumers, not only want well crafted stories, we want incredible high definition (HD) visuals with rich, true to life sound.
With the evolution of home theater technology and streaming services bringing high quality A/V into our homes, how can the leisure industry compete? One answer is with immersive and interactive storytelling like the dark ride.
What is a dark ride?
A dark ride is where a guest enters an immersive space and is transported through multiple scenes that tell a story. The concept has been around for well over a hundred years. For example, your parents or even your grandparents may have enjoyed a “tunnel of love” where they rode a boat or other vehicle through dark passages featuring scenes or visual effects. These types of rides are the spiritual progenitor of today's interactive rides.
Modern versions of dark rides leverage technology to tell a narrative and make the experience more immersive for the visitor. The ride usually includes visual and audio special effects, gaming aspects, and can incorporate additional sensory elements like air currents, water mist, and even smells.
Triotech, based in Montreal, Canada, manufactures multi-sensory interactive 3D rides, attractions, media-based rides and ride simulators for the entertainment industry. They have created installations for venues of just about every size from large theme parks to smaller family entertainment centers (FECs) including bowling alleys, shopping malls, arcades and more.
Triotech’s XD Dark Ride
Triotech’s XD Dark Ride is a scalable entertainment solution that offers installations ranging from 4 to 40 seats, making it an entertainment solution for venues of all sizes. Calling it a ride doesn’t describe the full experience. It’s a rich, multi-sensory interactive attraction that uses cutting edge technology and special effects to engage an audience with a story. It also capitalizes on one of the biggest trends in attractions - it’s a competitive gaming experience that encourages repeat business.
The attraction features a curved screen with real-time 3D graphics, individual targeting and scoring. The seats deliver motion that is synchronized with the media content to enhance the storytelling and engagement. Triotech also offers a wide range of movie content to entice customers to come back for a new experience.
Industrial computer control
The core of the experience is the motion seat that is synchronized with the action of the story. Each motion seat is individually controlled by its own computer, with each computer connected to a central server.
Reliability, lifecycle, and supply chain issues brought them to OnLogic
In the early days, Triotech sourced their own components. Like so many other businesses, they ran into reliability, lifecycle, and supply chain issues. They found that about the time they would settle on a configuration, a component would go end-of-life (EOL). In the end they found they were spending more and more time chasing down the parts and then dealing with reliability issues.
“Using OnLogic has given us great peace of mind. The products are highly reliable with good quality control. We appreciate how OnLogic monitors and is proactive about product availability and end-of-life announcements. Hardware concerns no longer keep us up at night and we can focus more energy on our core strengths - inventing imaginative entertainment solutions - not navigating the complex computer component supply chain.”- Ben Zabik Director Support and Service
Key system requirements
Triotech came to OnLogic looking for a solution with some pretty strict requirements:
- Family entertainment centers run long hours and typically do not have an IT staff on hand to resolve any issues.
- The venues are looking for a strong return on investment and can’t afford to repair or replace systems. They want to set it and forget it.
- Small form factor
- The server cabinet as well as the space under the seat is quite small and needs to fit all the motion actuators as well as the computer.
- Vibration Resistant
- The seat computers are installed underneath the moving seats near their actuators. This wasn’t a desktop deployment, the computers needed to withstand the motion.
- Availability and lifecycle management
- Triotech needed a team to project manage the sourcing and lifecycle management of components.
- The system needed the performance to support precision targeting and smooth interactive gameplay - no matter how many guests were active. In addition, the system needed to offer redundancy so that if a chair or hand control was broken, the other units were not impacted.
OnLogic’s strong supply chain
OnLogic has offices in Vermont (our headquarters), North Carolina, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Malaysia. Having connections around the world has helped the company tremendously with sourcing components. Triotech was delighted to speak with a technical sales representative who worked with them to find in-stock systems to meet their requirements.
“OnLogic has been a great partner. Even after the sale, they continue to offer us great service and support. We highly recommend them. It’s almost as if they are an extension of our team - working together with us to find the best solution to meet our requirements.”- Ben Zabik Director Support and Service
For the seat controller, Triotech selected the OnLogic Helix 310 equipped with the latest Intel processors. At less than 1.5" tall, these systems are quite literally the perfect fit for an under-seat installation. The fanless and ventless design of the HX310 helps protect the system from contaminant ingress, and even the occasional popcorn kernel. The absence of any moving parts also improves the lifespan and reliability of the system. In addition, it offers an impressive array of industrial I/O used to connect the electronic seat, sensors and targeting controls.
To act as the server for their solution, Triotech selected the MK100 high performance mini-server. Designed for longevity and reliability, the Triotech team can install their XD Dark Ride with confidence.
The entertainment industry is always full of surprises to delight and entertain the consumer. Triotech is leveraging their incredible imagination with their technology know-how to create the next generation of immersive experiences.
Working on your own imaginative and innovative experience? Join Triotech, and other innovative solution providers, in leveraging OnLogic systems. Our technical sales team is ready to help you make it possible.