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Japanese engineers develop headset-less VR system

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Journalists look at 8K video images projected on a 3.4-meter-high and 2.6-meter-deep dome-type widescreen as they experience a new virtual reality (VR) motion ride system, during a press preview in Tokyo on July 18, 2017.<br />Japanese visual engineers have developed a new virtual reality (VR) system that makes riders feel as if they were flying in a glass ball space vehicle, without having to wear headgear like the usual VR systems. / AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA

A virtual reality “space ride” in which viewers feel as if they are flying through the air inside a giant glass ball has been developed in Japan.

Unlike conventional VR systems, the “8K:VR Ride” — which resembles a cross between a theme park ride and a miniature IMAX theatre — does not require users to wear any headgear.

Instead they are placed on two swivelling, elevated chairs just in front of a semi-spherical screen which entirely engulfs their field of vision.

“Unlike the conventional flat screen, you can see images coming closer to you physically in this dome screen,” said Makoto Nakahira, an engineer at Wonder Vision Techno Laboratory.

“This is a system in which you can experience visuals that you have never seen before.”

The experimental technology was unveiled to Japanese media for the first time on Tuesday before a scheduled showing at Japan’s Digital Content Expo 2017 in October.

Its name refers to the screen’s super-high definition 8K technology, which is 16 times more detailed than most current HD images.

Wonder Vision co-developed the system with Japan-based NHK Enterprises and NHK Media Technology — both affiliated with public broadcaster NHK — and RecoChoku Labo.

The space ride was first showcased at SXSW 2017, a major conference on convergence in the interactive, film and music industries, in Austin, Texas in March.

The system features a hemispherical theatre known as Sphere 5.2 — a screen 5.2 metres (17 feet) wide, 3.4 metres tall and 2.6 metres deep.



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