7:07am PT by Carolyn Giardina
SXSW: 8K Virtual Reality Tokyo Ride to Debut
NHK Enterprises (NEP) and NHK Media Technology are returning to SXSW with their 8K "Virtual Reality Theater" technology and — together with partners RecoChoku Labo and Wonder Vision Techno Laboratory — are debuting a newly created 8K VR motion ride.
The ride will take participants on a virtual visit to Tokyo, complete with popular tourist destinations, set to the song "Tokyo Victory" by Japan-based band Southern All Stars. The installation has two motion seats and a 17-by-11.1 ft. screen (no VR headsets required). Content is presented in 8K (16 times the resolution of HD) with Wonder Vision's Sphere 2 8K projector, and with 5.1-channel surround sound. Air blows during the experience for added effect.
Numerous VR stakeholders have argued that higher resolution such as 8K is needed to improve the VR experience. Asked if they might create a VR headset using their 8K technology, NEP's executive producer, business development strategy, Tetsuya Fukuhara said via a translator: "Currently, there are no plans to develop VR headsets/head mounted displays (HMD). Although there is progress in the development for HMDs to support 8K, it still needs more time to be implemented. Meanwhile 8K video on projectors and large displays have already been achieved. Our project has applied existing gigantic screen size 8K video, while combining stereoscopic technology with sceneography to create a surprising and sensational alternative VR experience that people can share without using a HMD."
The companies plan to feature this project at future domestic and international events such as SXSW, which opens March 10 in Austin, Texas. While there are currently no plans to install it at special venues such as theme parks, Fukuhara said, "if there are any offers, we plan to consider that on a case-by-case basis."
The 8K format has been in development for many years, as Japan public broadcaster NHK is aiming to launch 8K broadcasting in Japan, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It began some test broadcasting with the format last summer during the Rio Olympics, and has tested 8K production at such events as the 2012 London Olympics and the recent Super Bowl. The Tokyo Victory experience was created with the same production technology.
Set makers including LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp have shown prototype 8K TVs.
There are currently no plan to offer 8K broadcasting in the U.S.