There have been plenty of hardware examples designed to make virtual reality (VR) as immersive as possible whilst reducing motion sickness. From Virtuix and its Omni treadmill to the seated Yaw VR motion simulator they all have their pros and cons when looking for that ideal solution. Quite possibly the most impressive to look at is Wellington, New Zealand-based Eight360‘s motion simulator NOVA.
The brainchild of Terry Miller and George Heather-Smith, NOVA offers a completely untethered platform for VR simulations and gaming purposes. Developed over the past 4 years, NOVA’s spherical design allows for unlimited rotation in whichever direction the user decides thanks to three omni wheels.
Now in its third iteration which is ready for commercial production, everything is contained inside the giant sphere which the user sits in; PC, battery, chair and harness, VR headset and then the required control scheme – a steering wheel and pedals for example. The entire unit is built with standard off the shelf parts where possible for easy maintenance.
Taking up just over 2x2m of floor space and weighing in at less than 500 kg (1,100 lb) the motion simulator is already compatible with titles such as DCS: World, X-Plane and NoLimits2 – Roller Coaster simulator. NOVA has been designed to simulate as many vehicle forces as possible, whether that’s a plane tilting to the bumps and crashes of a racing experience like Dirt Rally.
While the NOVA certainly looks impressive and you’re probably adding it to your VR wish list, its not aimed at the gaming market and likely won’t be appearing in your local VR arcade. The company is looking at various industrial and military use cases due to the costs involved. Eight360’s first customer was the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). “We’re looking to lease them as a hardware as a service model,” Miller said to New Atlas. “With ongoing maintenance and upgrades. It’ll be on the order of US$150k a year. So heavy, yeah.”