MWC 2018: I Sat in a Room With a Projector That Wants to Replace the VR Headset

By Tom Pritchard on at

If you want to enjoy 360-degree video or any other kind of virtual reality content, you only really have the one choice: wear some sort of headset and cut yourself off from the outside world. It's not really that convenient, and it's not exactly the most sociable of activities. There is another option out there, albeit an option that's expensive and definitely not within reach of the normal person.

BroomX has developed a projector that's capable of handling virtual reality content, beaming it out into the real world where people can enjoy it without any sort of headset. While it doesn't have the capability of projecting the full 360-degrees of content, it can beam out 220 degrees across the width of any room and 180 degrees upwards. That basically means it's projecting something that fills your own field of view, provided you don't turn your head too much.

I got to sit down and experience what BroomX's aptly-named virtual room for myself, and saw exactly what it had to offer. The video projection wasn't the best quality, or the brightest thing in the world, but it was quite nice to watch. Here's a photo that shows off what it sort of looked like, but remember that this was taken on my camera that doesn't perform so well in this kind of light. So like this, but darker:

That's obviously a bit overexposed, but you get the general idea of what this is about.

I was told the projector can be linked to a second unit to increase the field of view to a full 360 degrees, and it's compatible with existing VR video content that you can add via USB. I did ask about connecting games consoles and the like but didn't get an answer, which implies it's not an option. Not yet anyway, since the BroomX rep did confirm they're continually working on the software to make improvements. There's already an app that comes bundled with a selection of 360 and 180-degree content, with touch controls that let you scroll around the full video and see everything from various different angles.

The downside here is that the virtual room projector isn't designed for consumer, which is reflected in the €19,000 price tag. And no that's not a typo, this is hideously expensive. But I was told it's already had interest from hotels, nightclubs and other similar businesses that have been using the projector to something interesting and different for their clientele. That price will come down in the future, but obviously with such a high start it's going to take a while.

It probably won't even replace the premium VR headsets, but it does mean that the future of immersive entertainment doesn't necessarily have to involve strapping some sort of gizmo to your face.