This years celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Before 1989, life was quite different in eastern Berlin. The wall meant much more the the division of a city and its people.
It meant the divide between two different worlds, of two political systems which became known as the “Cold War”. But how exactly was life in eastern Berlin?
I have written here quite often about the potential of virtual reality. To me, one of the most interesting ones is the possibility of virtual time-travel. And one of the successful cases is TimeRide, a company from Cologne Germany.
And now they have reached Berlin, Germany’s most impactful destination.
TimeRide Berlin: Overview of the Entire Experience
TimeRide Berlin allows a virtual experience which takes visitors through three main moments, including videos and VR set.
1. First Experience: Video about Eastern and Western Berlin
In the first moment visitors enter a room divided by a wall, resembling the divide of the original Berlin Wall. It contains embedded screens which display a fascinating video about the former times, educating tourists of how life was in both Eastern and Western Berlin: The main challenges, difficulties, positives and overall life routine until the fall of the wall.
2. Second Experience: Video about three former (fictitious) residents
In the following moment visitors enter an environment resembling a cinema and watch the stories of three characters: two from eastern Berlin and one from western Berlin. They detail their routines, their life connections with the wall, the life on the other side and their personal memories.
3. Third Experience: Virtual reality experience of eastern Berlin.
In the final moment visitors enter a separate room which resembles the interior of a bus from the 80’s. Each seat contains a VR headset and visitors are asked to choose from one of the three characters they had heard in the previous room. The chosen character then guides and comments during the virtual reality tour through eastern Berlin.
Virtual Experience: From Checkpoint Charlie to Eastern Berlin
The virtual experience of TimeRide Berlin is truly remarkable. It starts at Checkpoint Charlie, moments before the crossing. You are placed on a bus, sitting next to the driver and capable of having clear view of the city.
In the first moment you can feel the anxiety experience of previous residents while crossing Checkpoint Charlie and having to wait while the policeman checks all the documentation and the bus. After all is clear and the tension is over, the bus moves forward to the other side of the city.
What follows is truly an experience of entering another world. Visitors have an immersive moment in the city, its contrasts, the constructions, the architecture, the lack of materials, the outdated cars and the feeling of being in a city that had “stopped in time” (when compared to western Berlin).
The journey takes you around the city and during it the chosen guide comments on a series of aspects: people’s lives, their relationship with the government, the interaction between locals and western Berlin visitors and much more.
The entire virtual experience lasts around 15 minutes.
TimeRide Berlin: How to Book
In case you visit Berlin and wish to have such experience, it is very simple. But given the number of visitors they have and the busy location, I suggest booking earlier to avoid any issues.
I came to Berlin this weekend for work and could not miss the chance. As I left TimeRide, I had to stop at a Cafe and write this article to put down some ideas.
The feeling of mixing the virtual imagery with the real world while leaving the place is such an enriching experience. I would highly recommend it. You feel the destination in a completely different way as your mind is combining both inputs of information and triggering non-stop thoughts you would never have otherwise.
Of course, the resolution of virtual reality glasses are still not optimal when compared to video game consoles and others. But it will get there.
Nonetheless, the current resolution is definitely good enough to provide an immersive experience. and it will only get better.
So yes my friend, if you are planning to visit Berlin, add TimeRide to your visit!