The Cedar Rapids Holodeck
Who needs a casino when you can have a holodeck?
In 1966, unbeknownst to generations succeeding the baby boomers, some incredible occurrences took place. The Baltimore Orioles “dream team” swept the L.A. Dodgers in 4 straight games to win the World Series, even though the prognosticators predicted otherwise. An artificial heart was implanted in Marcel DeRudder, bringing the wish of the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz that much closer to reality. And last, but certainly not least, the “Red Head” from Desilu Studios took a gamble on a new “space western” show whose run, offshoots, and variations have yet to breach the far side of the galaxy if not the universe. That show was Star Trek.
In one of its later spinoffs, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), the concept of a holodeck is introduced. The idea behind a holodeck is to take a space (a room) and create any setting or environment through the use of (computer generated images (cgi)) holographic images and objects. In the case of Star Trek, these holographic objects have “substance” (mass) and can physically impact and interact with persons in the holodeck.
It’s 2022 and although we can create holographic scenes/images, we can’t quite get them to smack us or punch back directly, but there are means to simulate it. And this is where the challenge takes off.
Cedar Rapids has a great history of being the home to “out of the box” thinkers like the Wright brothers, Arthur Collins, Harry Passman, and many others. As an alum of the Radio Factory (now Collins Aerospace) I am a blessed associate of inventors and a recipient of innovations that have allowed us to communicate from the moon and back, safely land planes in zero/zero conditions, and navigate to any spot on the planet by GPS satellites. Everybody loves a challenge and a good story, so I say let’s get started CR, let’s build a holodeck.
Here are my thoughts behind what a holodeck venue might be comprised of:
- A multi-room, possibly multi-level building that would support simulations for participants to take part in the following activities:
- Depending on the activity, body suits, goggles, and helmet gear could be used to enhance the realism (https://youtu.be/IWp_k5bvNmw)
- Multiple participants
- Gaming (without the gore)
- Sports (you pick it)
- Entertainment shows – consider Abba’s virtual concert tour (https://youtu.be/tZMNciTX7r8)
- Insert yourself (https://youtu.be/7ZPs7knvs7M) in your favorite story/TV/Movie episode
- Research Tool
- Repair/DIY Projects
- Next Generation IMAX (?)
I believe this is the type of venue that could appeal to all ages, folks that are ambulatory and those that are not.
I would anticipate that liability exposure would be on par with that of an entertainment venue, sporting event, or trampoline park. Taking on a project of this complexity and magnitude would certainly be daunting, but one in line with Cedar Rapids’ and Iowa’s historical innovative heritage. It’s certainly worth pondering.