This Projector Offers VR Without the Headset

By Tom Pritchard on at

VR is exciting stuff, letting you strap on a headset that transports you to a three-dimensional virtual world. The problem is, you have to strap on a headset to make that happen. Or do you?

Panoworks is working on a projector system that aims to offer a 360-degree VR-like experience without needing to wear a bulky headset. Instead it'll use a panoramic screen enclosure, and a 3D projector that translates virtual reality experiences into 360-degree video.

The viewing space seems to be limited to a 150-degree patch of screen, and the visuals can be controlled with a trackball, touchscreen, or gesture controls like Leap Motion and Kinect. The visuals can be upgraded to 4K, and come with 5.1 surround sound and stereoscopic 3D.

The whole thing raises more questions than it answers, though. Will people need glasses to see the 3D visuals? How is it an improvement on 3D displays that nobody actually wanted? Also how is this VR again? It's not a 360-degree display, and there's no head tracking to speak of. It just sounds like a very big 3D projector capable of adapting 360-degree content.

From the sound of things the experience is not going to be on par with that you'd get with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or even Google cardboard. That said, VR is a very isolated experience, and Panoworks is the kind of thing you could enjoy with other people.

At the moment it looks like Panoworks is only available in Japan, and pricing information has yet to be revealed. Don't expect it to be cheap. [Panoworks via CNET]