‘Birdly,’ a Virtual Reality Flight Simulator, Is Coming to Cambridge

The installation will be set up at Le Laboratoire Cambridge for three days only.
birdly virtual flight simulator cambridge

Photo provided

From Daedalus and Icarus to Leonardo da Vinci to modern-day skydivers, humans have always wanted to fly.

Powered by a motion platform and virtual reality technology, an upcoming installation in Cambridge will offer people a full-body, multi-sensory experience of flying like a bird.

The flight simulator, called “Birdly,” was developed as a design research project at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland, headed by media artist Max Rheiner. Earlier this year, it made stops in New York City, San Francisco, and the Sundance Film Festival.

Now, Swiss consulate swissnex Boston is bringing “Birdly” to Le Laboratoire Cambridge, the gallery portion of the experimental space in Kendall Square that also encompasses Café ArtScience.

The installation will be set up at Le Lab for three days, from December 2 through December 5, inviting visitors to don a pair of Oculus Rift 3D goggles, strap themselves in on the platform, and flap their arms as if they’re wings as they fly through a virtual New York City setting. To complete the experience, a fan set up in front of the platform will blow air into the user’s face, with level of force dependent on flight speed.

“Everyone at some point has dreamed of flying, and ‘Birdly’ provides a vivid, immersive experience that simulates that one-of-a-kind sensation,” said Rheiner, who will give a lecture at the opening reception, in a press release. “‘Birdly’ will make you feel like a kid again.”

Visitors will be able to try out “Birdly” for free, but will have to show up at Le Lab to schedule same-day appointments. Open hours will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on December 2, 3, and 4, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 5.

For more information, visit lelaboratoirecambridge.com.


Olga Khvan Olga Khvan, Assistant Digital Editor at Boston Magazine olga.v.khvan@gmail.com