A new type of virtual reality experience doesn’t require users to wear a VR headset. The system was created by researchers in Japan who replaced the headset with a large semi-spherical display, one that is coupled with a mechanical chair that physically moves the viewer in sync with the imagery. The technology has been demonstrated with a new ‘8K:VR Ride’ video that is something like a theme park ride.
If you’ve ever gone to a high-end arcade, there’s a decent chance you’ve played within a ‘game pod’ — that is, an enclosed booth with a semi-spherical screen that surrounds the player’s vision. These are often used for things like fighter jet games, mech battles, and similar, but they could also be used as an immersive way to watch video. While those game pods are usually low-resolution, this new technology is quite the opposite.
As the ride’s name suggests, the technology utilizes an 8K super-high-definition 4K display, which itself is inside of a theater where it measures 17ft across and about 11ft in height. Joining it is a seat connected to machinery that moves the viewers into the air, tips them forward and back, and slants them at angles to match whatever they’re watching.
In the case of this ride, viewers appear to be shot into the air quickly, where they then fly over a city, at one point zooming downward at the landscape rapidly. The seat moves in sync with these visual movements, tipping the viewers forward or back to add to the realistic sensations. Because the screen fully engulfs the viewers’ vision, it is easy to become immersed in the environment.
The system was developed by Wonder Vision alongside NHK Enterprises, NHK Media Technology, and RecoChoku Labs. The technology will be demonstrated this upcoming October at the Digital Content Expo 2017 in Japan, though it was already showcased at SXSW this year. Plans for the technology aren’t clear, but it is easy to see how it could be utilized by theaters and theme parks, among others.
Image via The Japan Times