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Gadgets

New projector creates VR without a headset

Panoworks' screen enclosure lets you experience VR games and movies across a 150 degree field of vision.

Panoworks

While VR might be the hot new thing, wearing headsets may not be for everyone -- especially those who want to enjoy it together in the same room.

Panoworks aims to reduce the need for head-mounted displays by merging projection technology with 3D imaging to create a VR experience without the bulk of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

The Panoworks is a panoramic screen enclosure with a top-mounted HD laser projector that translates current VR experiences (be it movies, YouTube videos or games) into 360 imagery. These visuals can be manipulated through a trackball, touchscreen or rotator across the 150 degree viewing space.

Panoworks offers Kinect and Leap Motion controller support for control by hand gesture alone. The video output can also be upgraded to full 4K projection, along with 5.1 surround sound and stereoscopic 3D projection. And hey, if you want to use it as a very big PC monitor, there's that option too.

Not too long ago, there were only a handful of VR companies competing for customers, with Sony launching the next big budget platform, PSVR, next month. However, smaller tech companies with their own take on virtual reality have slowly stepped into the light, with products like Fove's eye-tracking and the Dlodlo's ultra-lightweight goggles pushing for technologies to evolve.

The Panoworks currently looks to be available only in Japan, with pricing yet to be revealed.