The Concept

The Sfirolo is a circular room designed to provide immersive virtual experiences without the need to wear a VR headset. With walls made of curved OLED screens, the room would accurately simulate an environment and allow the user to walk and run on a floor made up of hundreds of motorized spheres.

The Background

In some countries like Japan, children and adolescents are not encouraged to use virtual reality headsets. I wondered if it would be possible to develop a machine similar to a ‘holodeck’ that would allow you to immerse yourself in a new world where you could move freely.

How It Works

In order to allow user movement, the Sfirolo’s floor would be covered with microscopic spheres controlled by a translation or rotation-inducing system. The user could then walk over the sliding or rotating spheres and remain in the center of the room, sort of like a multi-directional treadmill.

But how exactly will the spheres move? Well, the Sfirolo could operate a small dynamic electromagnetic field where each metallic sphere would slide along a magnetic path, similar to a magnetic levitation system (Maglev). Another option would be to control the rotation of each sphere. This would mean that whenever the user moves, the spheres would have to respond accordingly with little to no latency.

Depending on the ongoing experiment, the room could be heated or chilled. Eventually, fans would be added to create windy conditions, and ultraviolet lights could simulate sun exposure. A neurological headset and EEG monitoring device would allow the user and the instructor to analyze what is happening inside the brain during the experience.

What It’s Used For

Similar to pilot training devices, the Sfirolo could be used for learning purposes and offer a wide range of scenarios and simulated experiences. While more expensive than VR headsets, the screens would cause less headaches and eye strain and would offer an even more believable experience. Since VR headsets are not recommended for children under the age of thirteen, the Sfirolo could provide healthy entertainment and even promote physical exercise.

The Designer

The Sfirolo room concept was developed in collaboration with Ashish Thulkar, an Industrial Designer from Bangalore, India. Ashish graduated with a master’s degree in design from the Indian Institute of Science in 2014, and he currently works as a freelance vehicle designer. He also created the Atlantide concept and the Tridika people mover.