National Geographic have worked with partners to develop 25 ‘Space Projection Helmets’ fitted with internal laser projectors, custom fisheye optics and in-built audio. Inside the helmet, participants can view footage from NatGeo’s ‘One Strange Rock‘ series, which uncovers earth through the eyes of astronauts.
In a sense, this is passive virtual reality, but unlike headsets such as the Vive or Oculus, these helmets allow the participants to fully move their head inside the confines of the helmet, and look around the interior as though they were in space — apparently just like an astronaut would do inside his or her own space suit. Reports suggest the feeling is somewhat ‘more claustrophobic’ than other VR headsets given the user’s head is literally enclosed in a small space, but it certainly sounds like a unique experience nonetheless. Some of the footage features erupting volcanoes, thunderstorms, and an image of earth appearing atop a dark horizon.
Inside the helmet is a tiny 720p projector shooting through a fisheye lens. When projected onto the curved interior of the helmet, the image flattens out to provide a proportionate view.