VirtuSphere Battle Ball

Washington, D.C. (March 29, 2006) – VirtuSphere, located at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is a nine-foot plastic ball that sits on wheels enabling unlimited rotation in any direction. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing systems like VirtuSphere as part of a program called Virtual Technologies and Environments (VIRTE). A user, wears a wireless head-mounted display (HMD) that displays landscape, and can update continuously as the service member moves, by detecting changes in orientation. Much of the work with VIRTE focuses on the needs of the Marine Corps. U.S. Navy Photograph by John F. Williams (RELEASED)

The ONR selected VirtuSphere for the VIRTE program last fall. The VirtuSphere allows the trainee to walk, run, and crawl in any direction, adding a further dimension of realism to virtual training. The ball can be disassembled, the entire kit fits in a car for transportation, and it weighs less than 500 pounds. There are a number of videos available for those with some time to kill.

Besides the military training application, there are obviously a ton of other possibilities for this product. The company is based in Redmond, Washington, so I hope that they’re working with the Softies to hook this bugger up to an XBox 360. Sort of an XBox 3603.

Pic from Navy Newstand.

(Cross-posted to Defense Tech)


  1. OMG My dreams come true! I quite enjoy a bit of computer gaming now and again (avid fan of Americas Army Online). I can’t wait for the years down the line when things like this may appear commercially (I’m sure fate will intervene and I will have a family and never be able to afford such stuff).

  2. This maybe the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I still say no. I can already hear the hamster ball jokes

  3. I thought I might be seeing this again. Three years ago, when I was trying to choose a university in my native England, I was being given a tour of the engineering department I eventually chose. In one corner, there was, well, a giant hamster ball. It was a little cruder, but as I recall it was a PhD project. I think the original intention was for gaming, but there had already been interest in it for simulation purposes.