At SXSW, the Sphere 5.2 from Wonder Vision made its debut and it looks like it could bring immersive excitement to a theater setting, theme parks, and more.
If you’re walking the SXSW exhibition hall, it is pretty hard to miss the Sphere. It’s a massive, curved screen that resembles an extremely condensed version of the IMAX dome theater, except Sphere is for an audience of two to four people. Labeled as “VR without HMDs”, the setup I experienced was for the VR ride “Victory” where two passengers are strapped into a pair of chairs that rise, fall, and shake as you’re flown around various streets and districts in Tokyo, Japan.
Being 6’1, my trip on the Sphere was hindered a bit. After it starts, you’re lifted off of the ground but I had to continue to be mindful of my feet hitting the Sphere’s parts as we got lower. The passenger I shared the ride with was about 5’10” and was having the same issue as me. The experience was monoscopic — no glasses involved. It was also shown in a setting that takes away from its 8K screen as the expo hall’s lights beamed down, and didn’t really allow us to take in the crisp details of Tokyo. In a darker, enclosed area the screen would likely have a lot more pop.
This potential for this motion system is evident though. The promotional material for Sphere 5.2 showed off a collection of different seating modifications including a full car, static seating for more people, and even a small gaming-like racing seat. The Wonder Vision team believes there’s potential beyond theme parks, even finding space with car manufacturers as they test out their prototype cars.