I had a unique opportunity recently to demonstrate Virtual Reality hardware and software at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s recent adult night, themed A Pint At The Museum.

It all came about when I brought my HTC Vive into Q for one of our monthly “brown bag” lunch learning sessions. We invited our friend Charles Stout, Director of Exhibits at AAHOM. I got to talking with him and we thought VR might be a good fit for an event over at the museum. It turned out to be a really amazing thing for myself, and for them.

I had been looking for a way to volunteer my time that involved my passion for new technology and games. Plus, it brings a lot of joy to me witness people trying VR for the first time, watching their faces light up as soon as the immersion hits them.

In March, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum hosted a Turn Back the Time night that featured many throwbacks to the 80s and 90s. Adults were invited to come experience the museum’s exhibits, drink beer, and enjoy some food. It was an overwhelming success. It sold out! I had a line and a crowd the entire time.

For a VR demo I usually stick to a few family-friendly experiences. But this time I opened up my entire game list for people to try – everything from standing at the bottom of an ocean watching a huge blue whale swim within a few feet of you to shooting zombies in an abandoned warehouse. One of the popular crowd-pleasers is Richie’s Plank Experience. In this game, you take an elevator to the top of a skyscraper, only to have the doors open and reveal a plank of wood to walk out onto with nothing below you. It’s hard to describe the feeling. It doesn’t look scary on the screen. Looks like any other game until you put on the headset. Then you feel the depth and height. Spectators watch the player moving slowly out of genuine fear of falling, even though they are safely on solid ground.

I’m looking forward to more VR demos at future museum events.

– Matt Restorff


See more photos from this event on the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum’s Flickr page.