When it comes creating compelling documentaries, National Geographic, AKA NatGeo, is known to not spare expenses and the upcoming feature documentary, One Strange Rock, narrated by actor/rapper Will Smith, is no exception. The yellow border media company has collaborated with New York City-based Tomorrow Lab and McCann to develop “Space Projection Helmets” that would enable another entirely new form of virtual reality experience.
Unlike typical VR headset where visions are binocular, Space Projection Helmet is, as its namesake suggest, a helmet that engulfs the wearer with an immersion much like this IMAX screen offers, but in a dome format. In other words, the visor is the screen displaying images as projected by the built-in 720p laser projector and a fisheye lens, with the resulting effect being the wearer will see what an astronaut will see wearing a space helmet.
As observed by Engadget’s tech reporter Devindra Hardawar, who have experienced the hardware first-hand, the feeling of the helmet around his head can be quite claustrophobic. Also unlike VR headset, folks around you, though can experience the immersion like the wearer does, can see what’s being projected within – thanks to the transmissive nature of the visor. As for audio, it is delivered by a speaker built into the harness that came with the helmet.
From what we gathered based on Davinder’s experience, the realism is quite up there. Man, I wish I have a chance to experience the helmet myself, you know, since being an astronaut is out of question for an old man like me. But kids are different. They will still have a shot. However, before they actually get there (becoming astronauts), they will be experiencing the wonder of these helmets can bring when NatGeo brings them to schools and planetariums come this Spring to, you know, promote the media company’s biggest documentary yet.
Here’s the trailer for the said documentary, One Strange Rock:
Images: Eduardo Munoz for National Geographic.