Human Flight in Virtual Reality

"The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space...on the infinite highway of the air." - Wilbur Wright


My thesis is a virtual-reality human-flight experience that brings together Unreal Engine 4, the Oculus Rift, and the Razer Hydra to make you feel as if you are flying through a canyon. Before you fly, you are on a cliff. During this time, as you move in the real world, you move in the virtual world (and that includes jumping). Your task is to jump off the cliff, then hold both triggers to initiate the glider before you hit the ground. Once your glider is triggered, you are free to explore the lands as time shifts from day to night.


The canyon was designed to be dense and narrow near the bottom and open near the top, so you can choose how dangerously close you wish to fly by changing your elevation. The intention was to place you in an immersive world where you can enjoy experiencing dangerous situations without drastic consequences. I set out to to redefine your relationship with danger by enabling you to experience the sensation of human flight first-hand, with all the perilous close-encounters and exhilarating freedom it entails, yet none of the actual risks.


I went indoor skydiving to try to understand the feeling of flight. Every movement I made seemed to have exaggerated consequences. A simple lift of the chin can be the difference between ascending and falling. I quickly learned that this heightened sensitivity to movement could be mastered, as demonstrated by the instructor. With such precise control over his body’s position and rotation, he was able to do unbelievable mid-air maneuvers.


From the very beginning, I wanted people to fly in their living rooms, instead of at some establishment in the form of an installation. The basis of my research and development was around capturing the sensation of momentum, freedom, and control of human flight. It is a virtual playground where even though you feel like you are there, actual danger is nonexistent.