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Birdly and HTC Vive let you fly like a bird over Manhattan

Engadget Engadget 1/06/2016 Richard Lai
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Nope, we're not quite done yet with the HTC Vive demos at Computex. In addition to the three VR titles we tried yesterday, there was one more that we managed to hop onto after the show floor cleared. Yes, it was that popular. Birdly is a full-body simulator ride that uses multi-hinged flaps and motion feedback to give you a taste of flying like a bird. Better yet, there's a fan in front of the user to simulate headwind which gives you a better sense of flying speed. The visuals and head-tracking are offered by an HTC Vive, which allowed me to enjoy a nice bird's eye view while gently flapping my way through the skyscrapers in Manhattan. Well, I say gently, but it got intense once I started climbing my way back up -- it's definitely a fun alternative to working out in the gym.

This isn't our first time checking out Birdly. Back in January 2015, our very own Edgar Alvarez got to ride on the same rig at Sundance Film Festival, except that version was based on the Oculus Rift. At the HTC booth, we checked with a rep from the Swiss startup, Somniacs, and he confirmed that Birdly has switched from the Rift to the Vive for good -- not because of the joint promotion at Computex, but because of the Vive's more advanced tracking system.

You see, while the Rift works fine on its own, you'll want to use its external tracking sensor for optimal experience -- which isn't possible on the Birdly as it'd be affected by the fan's vibration, according to Somniacs' rep. The Vive, on the other hand, doesn't have this limitation, as its positional tracker (only one is needed here instead of both) doesn't have to be placed directly in front of the headset -- just anywhere with a direct line of sight would do just fine.

We understand that Somniacs sold its first Birdly just last January, and to date, only eight machines have been sold in total. This goes to show just how expensive the rig is, but the startup is keeping the price close to its chest. The only hint we got was that a Birdly costs more than your average car, so you better start saving up.

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