NHK develops new VR experience with 8K video projection and hemisphere-shaped screen


The virtually reality experience is no longer limited to bulky head gear with the advent of a new headset-free 8K high-resolution video projection system.

Some Japanese firms have come up with a headset-free VR entertainment experience that projects ultra-clear imagery, and they are trying to gauge its popularity with the public.

Along with other firms, NHK and affiliate partners came up with a VR attraction that takes people on a virtual tour of Tokyo, which was demonstrated at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in the city’s Koto Ward on Tuesday for reporters.

It provides an immersive experience without the need for headsets by projecting 8K high-resolution video imagery on a 3.4-meter tall by 5.2-meter wide hemisphere-shaped screen while users sit in chairs that are synced with the video.

“We happened to come across this Sphere 5.2 (the hemisphere screen) and thought we could create highly immersive content with it,” said Kotomi Watanabe, a senior engineer at NHK Media Technology Inc., which is a research and development arm of NHK. The public broadcaster has been looking to promote 8K content.

The firm has teamed up with NHK Enterprises, RecoChoku Co., a Tokyo-based music distributor, and Wonder Vision Techno Laboratory Co., which makes the attraction’s gigantic screen system called Sphere 5.2.

The 8K VR Tokyo tour makes users feel like they are sitting in a two-seat flying chair. During the tour, they get the chance to visit some of Tokyo’s most popular spots, including Shibuya, Asakusa and the Ueno district. The video tour often takes users high into the sky, even above the Tokyo Sky Tree, while the combination of the hemisphere screen, 8K imagery and moving chair provides a very immersive experience.

One merit of headset-free VR is that people can share experiences with others in real time, which is difficult when people are forced to wear bulky headsets that block out the real world, according to Watanabe.

Watanabe said they created the Tokyo tour content in collaboration with the popular band Southern All Stars to be used with their song “Tokyo Victory,” which is intended to promote Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The 8K VR ride will go on display in The Digital Content Expo scheduled for Oct. 27-29 in Tokyo.

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