Talk About Thrill: New Amusement Park Rides React To Your Breathing

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A bucking bronco that can tell you’re scared, and a swing that goes crazy detecting your breath? The UK is upping their game with these new amusement rides courtesy of Nottingham University.

A team from the UK-based University hooked up a bronco and a swing to adapted medical sensors that monitors a person’s breathing. Breathe faster and the bronco bucks harder, and the swing, swings harder.

“At some point your breathing speeds up, you lose control and fall off the ride,” says Joe Marshall of the Nottingham team to New Scientist. He added this made riders tend to concentrate harder on the experience, rather than let off the yee-haws usually accompanying the rides.

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Marshall’s colleague Steve Benford works with artist and engineer Brendan Walker are exploring ways to make amusement rides scarier. Their swing is driven by a motor controlled by the breathing of a person standing nearby. What’s really creepy is that the person’s wearing an adapted NATO gas mask. (The breathing sensor is inside the mask.) Even creepier is the fact the breathing could be heard by all in the room — the mask is also connected to a loudspeaker.

The team has presented their work to the companies that run two large UK amusement parks, Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, and they hope their work will inspire new ride designs. But they also note theirs is not a fully original idea. Fairground operators used to monitor customers’ faces and adjust the speed of the ride. “In some ways this is a step backwards,” says Marshall. (Via New Scientist)