The pitch for the Walk-in-Theater app (free) bowled us over by its sheer quantity of $5 words. Quoting the press release, "Walk-in Theater is a work-in-progress experiment with peripatetic perspective, engaging participants' proprioceptors and spatial memory to orient themselves as they navigate among multiple video streams in a 3D sound field."
In other words, it promises to deliver a groovy sensory experience as you play with it.
We felt we had to give it a spin, especially after having invested so much time looking up the meaning of the words in the press release.
Turns out the app is nearly as big as those words -- over a half a gigabyte in size. Most of that's due to the high-quality video segments embedded into the stored data, showing street scenes from what appears to be China (Please forgive me if I got that wrong).
The app ties into iOS's Core Motion system so when you physically move the iPad, you virtually explore a gallery of video screens. I found that the video was often slow to get going on my iPad 2 -- so I encountered a number of translucent walls, where I had to wait.
The audio is really amazing, nicely localized in space -- although you will have to wear headphones to experience that.
All-in-all, this app feels more like a tech demo than anything else. It would be a perfect installation in a museum, but as-is it feels a little hollow. Neither Core Motion nor spatial audio is anything particularly new. And I'm not sure the app adds much beyond that.
At the same time, it's a great way to show off some of the less-used features of the iPad for anyone who's in an evangelizing mood and provides a reasonably cool way to spend a half hour exploring.
Since the app is free, if you have space on your iPad, why not go ahead and download it and give it a go? Once you're bored, you can delete it off again, but you'll have had a nice little "oh cool" moment.
You can read more about the developers at their website.