Events

Behind the scenes report on VR Hang Gliding in Nikaho, a third-anniversary event!

October 2019 – April 2021


VR Hang Gliding in Nikaho, a virtual reality experience that enabled visitors to fly a hang glider through the air in Nikaho, was held as a special exhibit event at the TDK Museum from October 2019 to April 2021. The event, held to mark the third anniversary of the establishment of the museum, closed while still extremely popular thanks to the support of visitors. We are deeply grateful to everyone who came to the event. In this report, we discuss the background to making this project a reality, TDK technology used in the equipment, and other behind-the-scenes information.

Connecting the Nature of Nikaho to People Using Technology

VR Hang Gliding in Nikaho was an exhibit event that enabled visitors to experience in virtual reality (VR) flying through the air from Mt. Chokai, one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan, to the TDK Museum. The approximately three-minute flight takes off from an actual hang glider platform at the fifth station on Mt. Chokai, passes over the Kujuku Islands in Kisakata, which are a natural monument, and ends at the TDK Museum. Participants feel like they are actually flying through the air.

The theme of the exhibit, held to commemorate the third anniversary of the opening of the museum, was “connecting the nature of Nikaho to people using technology.” The objective of the event was to convey to visitors TDK’s contributions to local communities and information about TDK’s technology. Specifically, a real hang glider was used and VR equipment using video of a flight from Mt. Chokai, to the TDK Museum was installed. Passengers were attached to the hang glider harness and held onto the control bar just like flying a real hang glider and could steer by shifting their weight up, down, left, and right. This method of operation by shifting body weight was possible using TDK sensor technology. The local nature of Nikaho and people were connected by the VR hang glider equipped with TDK sensors.

Original video produced with a focus on realism

The exhibit emphasized realism, and the video was produced under the supervision of Yuji Suzuki, an active representative hang glider in Japan.

The exhibit emphasized realism, and the video was produced under the supervision of Yuji Suzuki, an active representative hang glider in Japan.

In addition, a story is created as the flight passes over scenic spots that Edo Period poet Matsuo Basho described in Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) including the Kujuku Islands in Kisakata, and ends at the TDK Museum. Reki-chan and Mira-kun, the mascots of the TDK Museum, appear in one corner of the video and provide commentary. The video was produced with a commitment to realism, but innovative methods were also used to make the three-minute flight enjoyable by incorporating the scenery of Nikaho and elements of entertainment.

TDK sensing technology conveys to people the sensations of flying through the air

The VR hang glider can change direction or fly faster or slower by the operator shifting his or her body. This effect is created using TDK six-axis sensors. When the body moves, the six-axis sensors detect the movement, and the actual tilt and speed are calculated quantitatively and reflected in the movement of a circulator that shifts the image and changes the wind speed.

Suzuki personally experienced all of the movements of the VR hang glider to create an experience that is as close to reality as possible. For many of the participants, this was the first time that they experienced VR or hang gliding, and many made comments such as, “It was fun,” “It felt good,” “I was surprised,” and “It was exciting.” The high-precision sensing function of TDK’s six-axis sensors made possible a realistic VR hang glider experience, successfully creating a highly appealing attraction.

Closing

The VR Hang Gliding in Nikaho event was intended to provide to local residents the fun experience of viewing from the sky scenery that they regularly observe in their day-to-day lives. We hope that through TDK’s technology, participants have rediscovered the appeals of Nikaho. A special event titled “Try Flying a Drone!” has been held since May 2021. This is a fine and even more powerful attraction, so please come to the museum and give it a try.