JR West to showcase virtual Osaka Station in summer VR show

West Japan Railway Company (JR West) will showcase a virtual incarnation of its Osaka Station created on the metaverse during an upcoming major VR exhibition.

Recreating some of the actual station’s features, the Virtual Osaka Station will allow visitors to board a virtual Haruka train, an express train that links the Kansai International Airport, experience a live in-station performance and go shopping in its retail outlets, according to JR West’s announcement on May 30.

The virtual station will be showcased in the “ParaReal Osaka” exhibition hall at Virtual Market 2022 Summer from August 13 to 28, which is one of the world’s largest VR events.

The exhibition is VR service provider HIKKY. Its Vket Cloud metaverse development engine has been used to help create the virtual Osaka station. This technology enables participants to easily access virtual worlds from smartphones and PCs without VR equipment. 

Previously, HIKKY partnered with East Japan Railway Company to open Virtual Akiba World (VAW), an original virtual space that recreated Akihabara Station in Tokyo and its surroundings, in March. The VAW included a virtual Akihabara station called Shin Akihabara Station, created in collaboration with popular titles including Godzilla, Evangelion and other leading Japanese characters.

The JR West Group positions Osaka Station a key testing ground for innovation, and aims to encourage it through collaborations with various partners. In one project, it uses Osaka Station’s underground station space and a new building on its top to study cutting-edge technologies for achieving a decarbonised society and sustainable development goals.

In March, subsidiaries JR West Ai-Will and JR West Innovations announced a pilot scheme using avatars in the sales of locally produced vegetables in office buildings. The project’s aim was to provide a new purchasing experience, promote digital technology to wider audiences including people with disabilities, and to promote local vegetables.