With Nippon Moon, UNStudio is bringing more than sheer scale to the concept of the enormous observation wheel. Though the height of the wheel has not been fixed, Nippon Moon is clearly intended to put Japan on the map (the map of gigantic ferris wheels, that is), and compete with, if not surpass, the likes of the 165-m (541-ft) Singapore Flyer and the 135-m (443-ft) London Eye. However, UNStudio hints that smartphone apps or even augmented reality could be used to enhance the ride, and make it an observation wheel fit for the 21st century.
Though the concept was apparently commissioned by the somewhat shadowy-sounding Ferris Wheel Investment, the only online references to which appear in connection to this very design, it appears that Nippon Moon remains a concept for now. UNStudio has consulted with wheel specialists at Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and concluded that the size and location of Nippon Moon mean few liberties can be taken so far as extravagant design is concerned, though the actual proposed location appears not to have been disclosed.
It's some of the complementary digital bells and whistles, devised with the help of Experientia, that immediately stand out. Booking their ticket with a smartphone, visitors will be able to tailor their ride by selecting which of the wheel's 32 individually-themed capsules they wish to ride in. Thirty-two, incidentally, is the same number of capsules as the London Eye, but the fact that at least some of these are intended to be double-decker hints at an ambitious scale.
More intriguing are UNStudio's hints at a wheel-based social network. Visitors might be able to communicate between capsules using an accompanying Nippon Moon smartphone app. Photos taken by visitors during their 40-minute ride will appear on a "Hall of Fame" in the terminal building at the base of the wheel. Speaking of the terminal building, the conceptual images show the wheel passing through this, rather dramatically, it has to be said.
Perhaps the most out-there feature of the concept is the augmented reality which UNStudio suggests could be built into the capsules' glass. This could be controlled by the same smartphone app, overlaying additional information on the surface of the capsule, or playing complementary sound.
How much, if any, of the above will come to pass remains to be seen. But at the very least UNStudio has painted an interesting picture of how the tourist attractions of tomorrow may offer more customizable experiences than they do today.
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