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Tricked-out Ferris wheel gets air conditioning, touchscreen tablets

The Red Horse Osaka Wheel, a decidedly 21st-century ride set to be unveiled on July 1, will be the tallest in Japan and the fifth-tallest in the world.

Osaka Wheel

The humble Ferris wheel may not be the most thrilling of rides, but Japan hopes to give it a 21st-century update.

Osaka's Expo City entertainment complex is expected to unveil Japan's largest Ferris wheel on July 1, and it features a host of modern amenities. Each of the 72 carriages comes complete with ultra-modern interiors, air conditioning units for the brutal Japanese summers and touchscreen tablets that provide "Expo TV" featuring park highlights.

The wheel will operate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and during night hours, each carriage will light up with floor-based LEDs. Two of the carriages are designated for VIPs, providing more luxurious seating.

The main draws to the Red Horse Osaka Wheel attraction, however, are the glass walls and floors, which provide a sweat-inducing view of the city and its surroundings.

Coming in at 123 metres (403.5 feet) tall, the Ferris wheel is set to be a significant landmark of Osaka, and a draw for tourists. Not only will the Red Horse Osaka Wheel be the tallest in the country, but the fifth-tallest in the world, knocking the Orlando Eye in Florida off its No. 5 position by 3 feet. The wheel itself takes 18 minutes to do one complete rotation.

Being that Japan is notoriously earthquake prone, safety is a No. 1 concern. The Red Horse Osaka Wheel is the world's first to use a base-isolated system, which allows it to absorb the shock of an earthquake, greatly minimising the structure's shaking.

Tickets will cost ¥1,000 ($9, £6, AU$12) for non-VIPs and ¥8,000 ($75, £50, AU$100) for VIPs.