Magazine topic: 
Science and technology

The D-BOX Experience

by : 
JohnM

A few weeks ago, while I was home for Easter in Scotland, I went to the cinema with my friends. We were going to see ‘The Hunger Games’, and I was really looking forward to it. So, like always, we got the train to Glasgow and headed to the big cinema in the city centre. However, this cinema experience was very different and unlike any other that I’ve ever had – this was my first D-BOX experience.

D-BOX Technologies is a Canadian company that produces motion simulators – in general, these are special seats that are programmed to duplicate the same movements as vehicles in games and films. The user then feels like they are actually riding, for example, a car, an aeroplane or even a rollercoaster.

In 2009, D-BOX Technologies introduced this technology to cinemas – at first in America, and then in Canada and New Zealand as its popularity began to grow with films like ‘Fast & Furious’ and ‘Harry Potter’. And then, two months ago, it was time for the company to bring its creation to the UK. And in fact, the very first cinema in the UK to be equipped with D-BOX is right in the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland – my cinema.

So, after being persuaded to try out this new cinema feature (and paying £5 more than a normal ticket) we headed to the screen, where we were shown our seats.

Red and black, each with two armrests and a cup holder, the D-BOX seats were almost identical to the average cinema seats; however, they were bigger, taller and, in fact, much more comfortable. I didn’t really know what to expect – I was both excited and nervous. And then, before I knew it, the film began and my seat started to move.

D-BOX seats are programmed to tilt, shake, vibrate, rise and fall depending on the action and audio of the film at the time, creating a very interesting cinema experience. This movement is so well programmed that, with a combination of sight, hearing and touch, it makes you feel like you are actually in the film with the characters. The seats can be very gentle when they need to be, for example, when Katniss (the main character of ‘The Hunger Games’) is using her bow and arrow, the audience is slowly tilted backwards as she aims at her target and pulls back on the string of her bow. And then they can throw you right into a scene when you’re not expecting it – I thought it was really impressive. And it’s definitely another way to experience and enjoy a film. In fact, at one point I was so engrossed in the film that when I got a fright I jumped right out of my seat.

However, the movements and vibrations could get so repetitive (like when Katniss was on the train) that I started to feel dizzy. The seats could also move so unexpectedly at times that they became a distraction. In fact, sometimes I thought my seat was about to fall apart or throw me into the next row – it was like I really was on a rollercoaster. And I often felt like I was moving more than other people, which made me feel quite silly and embarrassed.

Without a doubt, D-BOX marks the future of cinematic possibilities. Yes, it was an interesting experience and one that I’d recommend, but I’m not sure if I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. The tickets are so expensive and I think that the different movements and vibrations can get quite annoying – I mean, how can you really enjoy a film if you’re not even able to concentrate?

D-BOX may be very popular and successful at the moment, but it’s also still very new. And it’s different, so there’s still a lot of interest and curiosity. So, maybe in a few years’ time it won’t be as popular and people will prefer to watch films in the traditional 2D format – no glasses, no moving seats, just the film. However, for now, it’s the new craze.

But really, when do we go from moving seats at the cinema to an actual rollercoaster?

I guess only time will tell.

Discussion

Would you like to see a film in a D-BOX cinema?