Montreal's D-Box motion-synched chairs hit Hollywood

by Paul Jay, CBC News.ca.
As former and current television stars David Caruso, Shelley Long or David Duchovny might no doubt tell you, the transition from the small screen to the big screen can be a challenge for an actor. But for technology and culture trends, the move often works in reverse, as home entertainment system innovations slowly make their way to the theatre chains only once the theatres establish that there might be a market for the latest doo-dad. Think 3D. Or digital cinema. Or video games.

The latest company to make that transition? Montreal-based D-Box Technologies, whose motion-code technology adds the sensation of movement to movies by synchronizing a motorized chair to the action in the film.

A year ago our intrepid correspondent Peter Nowak, now off playing video games or something, wrote about the buzz around D-Box's appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show, where they wowed audiences and nabbed a design and engineering showcase honour.

The company was marketing the chairs as part of home theatres -- with a high-end leather recliner selling for about $10,000, while a platform-only version that can be fitted to any lounge seat selling for $3,500 -- but it was looking to sell the technology to movie theatres.

Now, it seems, they are doing just that. The company announced Wednesday they have an agreement with Arizona theatre chain UltraStar Cinemas to install a section of the chairs in one of its theatres.

This is actually the second theatre to add the special seats, which move and bump in real time with the on-screen action like a roller-coaster ride. A week ago Mann Chinese Theatre in Hollywood was the first.

It brings up the possibility that we could one day watch Pirates of the Caribbean in a movie theatre with the special chairs, which would certainly be a meta experience: watching a film based on an amusement park ride in a theatre seat that felt like an amusement park ride.