Panoworks projector is like VR without the headset

The kind of thing that looks like the future until the future actually turns up

Like the idea of an immersive entertainment experience, but not a fan of strapping a set of goggles to your head? Then a new display technology straight out of Japan may be what you're looking for.

Panoworks is looking to give an experience akin to virtual reality without the claustrophobic need to wear a headset. It's using projection technology alongside 3D imaging to put you in the center of the action - without cutting you off from the rest of the world.

The Panoworks projector essentially pairs a curved, panoramic screen shell with an overhead laser projector. Together, the two are able to recreate existing virtual reality experiences with a 150-degree horizontal and 66-degree vertical field of view.

Communal immersion

It offers then an immersive viewing experience, encapsulating your field of view with 3D imagery. Control of the content can be handled with gesture controls through Kinect and Leap Motion integration, or with a simple trackpad.

For the ultimate experience, a 5.1 sound system can be paired with the Panoworks kit, alongside a 4K 3D projector.

Now, it's not a like-for-like experience when compared to an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive - there's no head tracking for starters. But for those looking for a more communal immersive experience, there's room for a couple of people to jump in here.

So far, there's no pricing information for the Panoworks projector system, or news of release plans outside of Japan. But it's certainly an interesting VR alternative to keep an eye on.