SEOUL, South Korea – The young South Korean creator of a futuristic “4D” theme park that sparked interest in countries around the world has committed suicide in Los Angeles, officials told ABC News today.
Eun-Seok Chey, 39, was CEO of d’strict, a New York and Seoul-based creative agency. He was found dead at a hotel in West Hollywood.
Los Angeles County Coroner confirmed to ABC News that Chey had hung himself on Feb. 17 although the company announced on its Facebook page that the cause of death was a heart attack.
Chey has been in the spotlight in the software industry for his state-of-the-art digital software design and engineering. His company is a pioneer in technologies such as media façade and use of holograms to create a virtual stage.
One of the last interviews he gave was to ABC News at Ilsan, near Seoul where he built an indoor theme park dubbed “4D Live Park” where visitor’s avatar roams through a world of games and adventures. The 2.85 acres of techno thrills is a compilation of future state-of-the art virtual technologies.
”We call it 4D because it’s backed by 3D video screens plus interaction. Here, you are not just an audience going through one ride to another. You are part of what you see. In short, you are experiencing mixed augmented reality,” Chey said.
Mixed augmented reality refers to merging of real and virtual worlds to produce a new visualized environment using computer generated input such as video or graphics.
The key concept is interaction powered by motion-sensing, hologram, and RFID tracking system. “You not only move your body but also sing, shout and smile. That’s all part of the future games,” he said.
Guests to Live Park first check-in using RFID wrist bands to create their own customized avatars. That tracking system allows these avatars to appear on the screens spread throughout the stadium as guests freely roam around the 65 attractions over seven themed zones.
That motion sensing Kinect technology is applied on a theme park scale, first in the world to do so.
“It took only two years at $13 million,” Chey boasted. “We know our potential is strong. We’re the best in software design and hardware technology. All we need now is strong content, great stories.”
Live Park attractions are based on a story that Chey created from his childhood imaginations. Each guest becomes an avatar rabbit and flies to the back of the moon in a rocket. Each avator builds pieces of the moon to help improve the environment and to fight the evil earless rabbit Tana in numerous video games.
In its “Live Square” zone – the world’s largest interactive projection square – where all four sides of the hall is covered with a 500-feet long projection screen, thousands of avatars could play games in coordinated efforts to destroy Tana. Completing missions and gaining weapons all require hundreds of activities such as drumming, hopping, clapping, shouting, and smashing.
In its “Live Holo” area hologram shows are put on throughout the day. For instance, British indie rock band Boxer Rebellion plays in the form of a hologram while real backup dancers perform on stage decorated with fancy 3D digital effects.
“It’s a mixed reality. You’ll see Lady Gaga there as a hologram,” Chey said. “While she actually performs in New York, now we can make her appear all over the world at the same time. Stages will be digitally designed here and with real dancers.”
D’strict is to announce next month its first overseas Live Park facility in China to be opened by the end of 2013. The company recently secured a project in Singapore and was also in talks with governments and investors in the U.S., Dubai, Singapore, and Macao.