CreaTe alumnus Freek Teunen enabled Droomvlucht for everyone with his graduation project
Freek Teunen started his University of Twente career in 2013 with the bachelor’s programme Creative Technology. This enthusiastic, creative and passionate young man will take all kinds of technologies into account to fulfil innovative dreams. Today, wheelchair-bound visitors of the Efteling, an attraction park in the Netherlands, can take part in the ‘Droomvlucht’ (dream flight) themselves because of Freek’s graduation project. You could say: High Tech Human Touch in a nutshell.
In 2013 Freek Teunen started his bachelor’s programme Creative Technology at the University of Twente. “I did not want to work behind a computer screen all the time. I also wanted to build things and this programme matched best with my interests in business, creativity and technology. It combines computer science and electrical engineering technology in order to create new solutions to be made and used by people in our society ”, Freek explains.
“Creative Technology offers me the opportunity to pursue my interests and work in projects with amazing students. During lectures, you learn what you need to fulfil really great assignments, but you also have to check out a lot of necessary knowledge yourself. I like this way of studying. This way of experimental work and self-discipline creates enthusiastic, hardworking students with an entrepreneurial dream. I am happy to be one of them!”
Freek: “You learn how to approach a project, make a plan, create prototypes and test these prototypes with your target group. In real life, you can never market a new product or idea if you did not test it before it gets into production. These essential skills make you an expert in Creative Technology and – of course – of great interest of innovative companies.”
Freek always dreamed about working in a fairy tale park like the Efteling in Kaatsheuvel. When he got the opportunity to work on an innovative project in this park, he jumped to the opportunity. “The project came to life after a meeting with the people of the park and our UT. Of course, we needed to know what they had in mind. After that, we came up with a research project which focused on bringing the Droomvlucht experience to disabled visitors who were not able to ride it themselves. Bringing Droomvlucht to visitors in a wheelchair can be done by using different technologies. I did not only enjoy working on the project, but I could create impact on society as well. Because I had to travel a lot between Kaatsheuvel and Enschede I was very lucky to find a very welcoming host family to take me in for a couple of days a week. Passionately I worked on my graduation project and decided that Virtual Reality (VR) would be the best technology to use because it is the most immersive one. VR can create the feeling that you are IN the Droomvlucht and not only in a room watching a screen. The final prototype was tested with a group of visitors bound to a wheelchair and in the theme park as well.
Freek: “The Efteling was not used to this way of approaching a project, using such small prototypes and working with a student of the University of Twente. However, they liked the experiment with the target group a lot, because they could see, in real life, how disabled visitors reacted to this concept. I am grateful that I could work with the Efteling, giving me all the opportunities and help I needed to fulfil my task. It was interesting not only to meet new people within the organization, but also to work with them. During my time working for the Efteling I met Jaap den Bleker, who later became the project leader when it was decided to realize it for real. During this realization, I was a member of the team and kept an eye on things that everything went according to the results of our experiments before the attraction opened on 12 April 2018.”
Since his graduating in 2018, Freek focuses on expanding his two companies: Freaks and Beards and PlaygroundVR. Freaks and Beards innovates with prototypes and experiments. Clients who benefit of their knowledge and expertise are KRO-NCRV, Conrad and also the Efteling. “With PlaygroundVR we want to bring the outside playground to the hospital beds, so children can still play while they are in hospital. To fully focus on these two companies, I decided to halt my master’s programme. I am looking forward to this exciting period. Let’s see how far it will get me!” Freek smiles.
The Dutch online newspaper nu.nl made a reportage about Freek’s project and the new Droomvlucht attraction (in Dutch).
Picture credits: Efteling