How An Air Dome Builder Brought A Piece of the Winter Olympics to Seoul

South Korea’s capital city of Seoul is about a three hour drive from Pyeongchang, site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. But SK Telecom, one of the largest companies in South Korea, has partnered with an air dome structure builder to bring a piece of the action back to the capital.

At the end of January, SK Telecom unveiled a huge, igloo-like air dome structure packed with snow drifts and snowball fights. But it wasn’t the cold and wet variety of snow — rather, the company created a VR-based winter wonderland.

The air dome structure builder built the dome to resemble a giant igloo. Inside, the igloo hosts an array of gadgets for the structures 3,000 visitors per day to enjoy.

There’s a virtual snowball fight that uses haptic sensor technology to simulate the impact of frozen projectiles. In case that wasn’t cool enough, the players don’t just throw snowballs at each other — they fight an army of snowball-wielding monsters.

If that sounds too intense, there are other options for warier visitors. High above the floor of the dome sits a giant UHD screen that plays wintery content to add to add ambiance.

Korea Biz Wire, which reported on the dome, was careful to note that, “The video is smoothly played at the igloo despite being 20 gigabytes per second in size, thanks to streaming compression technology and 5g networks.”

It’s impressive, and that’s the point. An SK Telecom official told Biz Wire that the exhibit is meant to show off South Korea’s ICT technology to international visitors who are stopping in Seoul on their way to the games in Pyeongchang.

The whole show is admittedly, pretty cool. Though it’s perhaps a bit quaint to those of us here in Canada, who can step outside for a snowball fight just about any time between November and March. Whipping a snowball at your friends is probably just as fun as nailing a monster with a frozen headshot, right?

As for the air dome structure, we do have plenty of those in Canada as well. There’s a local air dome structure builder here in town called the Farley Group that makes air domes for tennis courts, soccer fields, and other such things.

Why build a dome in the first place? For one, the cost to buy a Farley sports dome is far lower than the expense of a permanent building. Air domes also have the benefit of being temporary. This is the reason SK Telecom opted for a dome with their exhibit, since it only lasts as long as the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Plus, a dome is made of cushy fabric. That’s important when you have crazy kids thrashing around with VR helmets on. Running smack into the wall of an air dome is going to be far less damaging to the kid (and the VR equipment) than, say, cinderblocks.

I wonder what would be the cost to buy a Farley sports dome and fill it with crazy VR-tech here. Anyone want to pitch in?