Birdly: An Insane Virtual Reality Experience

Have you ever felt beeing a bird? With Birdly flight simulator you can fly through New York City using your whole body. Great experience. But what about monetization?


(mh) I was flying, I was afraid of crashing into skyscrapers, I was fighting – what a workout, what an experience! But beeing a human bird and flying in realistic 3D models of cities is much more than fun. Scientists started the project mostly interested in motion sickness research and the combination of virtual and physical reality.

“We are cheating a lot”, Somniacs CEO Michel Zai said on stage of World VR Forum, “we learned that our mind is flexible” regarding for instance angles while flying up and down. Birdly started 2013 as interaction design project at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Now the company Somniacs is looking for commercial usecases. “Hotels want to have a bad wheather program” Zai said. But Birdly seems to be too expensive. The price? “We usually compare it with a Tesla. The model S”. So it is a lot more than 100.000 Euro. Exact pricing is not public.

But on a day you can bring maximum 200 persons to a flight experience. Monetization is hard. At the moment Somniacs is implementing advertisement. On a wall of a Manhattan Skyscraper there is a billboard. And when you are flying into it you are teleported for 15 seconds around Matterhorn in Switzerland and a Swiss plane is flying next to you. “Not annoying” Zai said. But I preferred not to fly in a skyscraper wall.

So what can we learn from Birdly? It is about emotions: “We call it the happy machine” Michel Zai is explaining. “People are smiling when leaving the bird simulator”. Or with the words of US game designer Nicole Lazzaro speaking in another session in Crans Montana: “It is easy fun”.