Honda Thinks This Segway for VR Could Be the Future

Honda Thinks This Segway for VR Could Be the Future

Honda announced a new “Extended Reality Mobility Experience” debuting at this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, where the company will invite attendees to strap on a VR headset and strap into a fancy wheelchair. The future is here, maybe.

The stunt uses Honda’s new UNI-ONE, a personal mobility device with self-balancing technology similar to a Segway, which lets riders steer by leaning their bodies in a given direction.

The carmaker is promoting the UNI-ONE as a mobility device for people with disabilities, but it seems Honda thinks the wheelchair will be lots of fun for everyone. The company shared images and video of a headset-wearing man riding in the chair with arms outstretched and a childlike smile.

“With the Honda XR Mobility Experience, we are expanding the joy and freedom of personal mobility into entertainment applications,” said Hirokazu Hara, a Vice President at Honda America in a press release. “By combining the unique, physical experience of riding the Honda UNI-ONE with highly immersive digital entertainment, Honda is creating a brand new multimodal experience that takes extended reality technologies to the next level.”


Introducing the Honda Extended Reality Mobility Experience

Honda said it envisions people participating in the XR Mobility Experience both indoors and outdoors in “obstacle-free spaces,” including theme parks, entertainment facilities, stores, and shopping malls. The promise is a “choose your VR adventure” where you’ll be able to “experience the peaceful feeling of floating in the sky or the exhilarating feeling of gliding along a half-pipe path,” the company wrote. “Honda also believes that UNI-ONE can be used as a mobility device in XR games, such as a racing game where players use their hands while moving freely or a game in which players follow certain routes.”

The company isn’t the first to consider adding more physical movement to VR gaming. For example, researchers unveiled a Dance Dance Revolution style mat that lets players run around in virtual space by lifting their legs up and down with a movement that, one has to admit, looks like a child who needs a bathroom break. Other experiments include treadmills that simulate walking in any direction, making VR gaming all the more immersive. Last year, this reporter strapped on a VR headset in the back of a BMW with a company that promised the first ride in the “metaverse for cars.”

Adding a wheelchair to the mix is an unexpected and astronomically expensive addition to the mix. But you can see the appeal of riding around what’s essentially a little car. At first glance, however, Honda’s vision leaves a little to be desired. The promotional video features glitchy low frame-rate graphics and games that look about as boring as can be.

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