Honda combines personal mobility and VR in extended reality mobility experience – ET Auto

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UNI-ONE features a seat that can be raised and lowered, making mobility more fun when interacting with people at the same eye level.

Honda will hold the global debut of a first-of-its-kind extended reality (XR) experience at SXSW 2024, merging the joy of mobility with virtual reality (VR) adventures. The all-new Honda XR Mobility Experience integrates digital environments with the real-world experience of riding the Honda UNI-ONE, a hands-free, personal mobility device.

“With the Honda XR Mobility Experience, we are expanding the joy and freedom of personal mobility into entertainment applications,” said Hirokazu Hara, vice president of New Business Development, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “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.”

SXSW 2024 marks the US debut of the Honda UNI-ONE, a hands-free, personal mobility device that features advanced self-balancing technology and sensors that enable the user to move in any direction based on postural movements.

UNI-ONE features a seat that can be raised and lowered, making mobility more fun when interacting with people at the same eye level. In “high position,” the user is closer to the eye level of someone standing and can move in all directions – forward, backward, sideways or diagonally – as well as turn around with both hands free, simply by leaning in one direction to shift their weight. In “low position,” the user is able to better communicate with those who are seated or small children and can move in any direction by steering with a joystick.

The electric UNI-ONE is equipped with Honda’s original wheel mechanism, Honda Omni Traction Drive System (HOT Drive System), an evolution and advancement of the Honda UNI-CUB β device – first introduced in 2013. UNI-ONE has two units of the HOT Drive System – one on each side – enabling the user to move smoothly in any direction. Based on a user’s posture, UNI-ONE can estimate the user’s intentions, such as a desire to stay in place or move in a specific direction and speed. The stabilization function controls UNI-ONE’s wheels so it does not lean too far and applies feedback to achieve natural behavior that is neither too fast nor too slow.Beginning in 2023, Honda has been demonstration testing UNI-ONE for multiple use cases in Japan, including at the Mobility Resort Motegi in Motegi, Tochigi; Suzuka Circuit Park in Suzuka, Mie; and the Gotemba Premium Outlets in Gotemba, Shizuoka. For the demonstration testing at Suzuka Circuit Park, Honda integrated UNI-ONE with AR technology to create a game. Users play by holding a tablet and navigate UNI-ONE according to scenes displayed on the tablet. These demonstration trials are helping to validate UNI-ONE as a mobility device for entertainment applications.

UNI-ONE is designed to offer stress-free mobility and appeal to a wide range of users. It is battery-operated and has a maximum speed of 3.7 miles per hour. The maximum user weight capacity is 242 pounds.

SXSW attendees can ride UNI-ONE and immerse themselves in their own “choose your VR adventure” at the Honda XR Mobility Experience. While wearing a VR headset and shifting their body weight to steer UNI-ONE, users can experience the peaceful feeling of floating in the sky or the exhilarating feeling of gliding along a half-pipe path.

Working toward commercialization in the U.S., Honda envisions people enjoying the XR mobility experience in indoor and outdoor obstacle-free spaces, including theme parks, entertainment facilities and retail spaces such as shopping malls. 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.

In addition to entertainment and retail business partners, Honda is seeking to collaborate with AR and VR developers to create custom digital experiences choreographed with the movements of riding UNI-ONE.

  • Published On Feb 29, 2024 at 09:57 AM IST

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