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VR Interfaces: Kobayashi Youhei's 'Media Vehicle'


Overview of Kobayashi Youhei's 'Media Vehicle'
The Media Vehicle, is a serious take on VR interfacing, however it is not a serious commercial device. The unit is, for lack of a better phrase, an ?art tool?. It exists to showcase what is currently possible, and to hint at what may be possible in the near future, not as a device which expects a practical market.

Created for the Science Museum in Odaiba, Tokyo, the interface device is part of an exhibition on the near-future of robotics and media devices.

The interface is a completely self-enclosed pod. Its not for everyone, as it can only take a maximum user weight of 60kg (132 pounds), although it can accommodate up to six foot tall individuals. As the photograph above shows, the unit is divided into three domes, with the uppermost being the largest. The bottom dome is open to the outside, so air flows freely from there, negating the need for air conditioning. However, it does get very stuffy, very quickly.

The upper dome, surrounding the head, arms and torso, is a 360 degree by 360 degree hemispherical display screen, not too dissimilar from the one on the old flogistron chairs, if much higher resolution. This provides the immersive VR experience, coupled with 3D surround sound speakers also embedded in this section. The middle section secures the legs in place, and has no real interactive features. Finally, the feet stick through the bottom of the lower pod, and press against a small omnidirectional treadmill, allowing them to ?walk? from a seated position, and use the direction of their feet as the main navigational device. There was no keyboard inside the unit, so it is unclear if the designer ever meant for it to be more than passive VR.

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