Virtual Touch technology brings Pacific Visions to a more diverse audience

After a whole lot of time, effort and money—more than $50 million—the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Pacific Visions opens to the public today. We wrote about the sneak preview of the two-story, 29,000-square-foot addition, last week, taking time to dwell a bit on its centerpiece: the 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater with its massive 130-foot-wide, 32-foot-tall screen.

Though the screen is huge, the theater has an air of intimacy not only because the screen curves in front of the seats, but because the space further engages the audience’s senses by producing such elements as wind, fog, scents and seat vibrations.

To ensure that kind of total experience is available to as many visitors as possible, the theater utilizes “virtual touch” devices that create tactile sensations mid-air. The technology, which will be offered to those who are blind or deaf, helps convey the sensation of bubbles popping, the rush of the ocean and the rush of sea creatures swimming.

This is the first time this technology, developed by Ultrahaptics, has been used to enhance film at an aquarium, zoo or museum. We tried it during the preview and found the experience amazing and, we’ll say it, somewhat thrilling.

That being said, please don’t ask us how it works. If you’re into that kind of thing, check out the below video.

You can purchase tickets to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific and its brand new Pacific Visions wing starting Friday. Check out the ocean-themed art, a movie on sustainable solutions in the new theater, and a culmination gallery expanding further on innovative methods to better take care of our planet.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way. For more information, click here. Looking for more things to do this weekend? Check out “The 7” here.

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Steve Lowery began his journalism career at the Los Angeles Times, where he planned to spend his entire career. God, as usual, laughed at his plans and he has since written for the short-lived sports publication The National, the L.A. Daily News, the Press-Telegram, New Times LA, the District and the OC Weekly. He is the Arts & Culture Editor for the Post, overseeing the Hi-lo.