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"The exhibit is an immersive experience that surrounds the user in a three-dimensional, computer-generated world. "
Virtual reality Installation at Sapporo Brewery in Japan

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Click to play video Excerpt from the Virtual Brewery


Virtual Brewery Adventure <1994>

The Virtual Brewery Adventure is a Virtual Environment experience developed for Sapporo Beer of Japan. The exhibit is permanently installed in the Visitor's Center of Sapporo's new office building located in the Yebisu Gardens Place Development in the Ebisu area of Tokyo - originally the site of Sapporo's Yebisu Brewery built in 1887. The Virtual Brewery has had over a million visitors since it opened to the general public 6 days a week in October, 94 .

The viewer uses a 3-D display device called a BOOM, developed originally in our lab at NASA and later commercialized by Fakespace. We modified the BOOM so that it was appropriate for a public installation--we ruggedized it and put extra safety devices on it. Visitors at the exhibit also have the option of looking through one of 12 passive viewers, which are essentially BOOM heads without the mechanical linkage. Although visitors can't control the viewpoint through the passive viewers, they do get the same immersive experience. Further, large projection screens show 2-D images of what the BOOM users are seeing. We also included 3-D sound, using the Acoustitron II by Crystal River Engineering.

Visitors getting into the BOOM first see a 3-D computer-generated model of the old Sapporo brewery, which they can fly around until they eventually arrive at the front door. After entering the brewery, they fly through a huge tank of bubbling beer. A computer-generated tour guide leads them down a long hallway to a large, modern control room, similar to ones in new breweries these days. The control room displays four windows looking out on photorealistic, computer-generated images of the brewing process. Here, the visitor has to choose which of the four processes they wish to see, whether that is brewing, fermentation, filtration or bottling. They look at the desired window, push a button on the BOOM handle, and are pulled out into a microscopic world. The first window represents the brewing process.Viewers travel along with the starches that are broken down into sugars.

The second view takes viewers through the fermentation process, where yeasts, used to break down the beer into alcohol, carbon dioxide and other products, bud and create colonies. The third perspective takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride through the filtration process, which ends with a ceramic filter that blocks yeast and impurities out of the beer. The last window is a surreal interpretation of the bottling process. Lines of bottles float around in space. Beer comes out of nowhere to fill the bottles; at some point, the caps land on the bottle tops. Finally, the Sapporo labels slap onto the bottles.