LPVR-DUO in an Airborne Helicopter

In-Flight VR

Imagine soaring through the skies as a pilot, testing the limits of a helicopter’s capabilities while feeling the rush of wind and turbulence. Now imagine that you don’t see the real world outside and the safe landing pad that your helicopter is approaching but a virtual reality (VR) scene where you are homing in on a ship in high seas. The National Research Council Canada (NRC) and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) have brought this experience to life with their groundbreaking Integrated Reality In-Flight Simulation (IRIS).

IRIS is not your ordinary simulator; for one, it’s not sitting on a hexapod, it’s airborne. It’s a variable-stability helicopter based on the Bell 412 that can behave like other aircraft and can simulate varying weather conditions; combine that with a VR environment and you have a tool that allows safely training operations in the most adverse conditions. In particular it is used for Ship Helicopter Operating Limitations (SHOL) testing.

Mission-Critical Application with LPVR-DUO

The LPVR-DUO system is what makes VR possible on this constantly moving platform. This cutting-edge AR/VR tracking system seamlessly merges the inertial measurements taken by the headset with the helicopter’s motion data and a camera system mounted inside the cabin to provide the correct visuals to the pilot. The challenges of using cameras to track the VR headset inside the tight environment of the helicopter while lighting conditions are ever-changing are overcome by using an ART SmartTrack 3 system. This system follows an arrangement of reflective markers attached to the pilot’s helmet. The VR headset is attached to the helmet in such a way that the pilot can wear it as if it were a pair of night vision goggles. Put together, this allows displaying a virtual world to the pilot, even in the most extreme maneuvers.

To ensure an authentic experience, the IRIS system incorporates real-time turbulence models, meticulously crafted from wind tunnel trials. These turbulence effects are seamlessly integrated into the aircraft’s motion and into the VR scene, providing pilots with precise proprioceptive and vestibular cues. It’s a symphony of technology and innovation in the world of aviation testing.

In-Cockpit Implementation

The optical tracking system relies on highly reflective marker targets on the helmet to track movement in three dimensions. Initially, only five markers were installed, strategically placed for optimal tracking. But the pursuit of perfection led NRC to create custom 3D-printed low-reflectivity helmet molds, allowing them to mount a dozen small passive markers. This significantly improved tracking reliability in various lighting conditions and allowed for a wider range of head movement.

Recently, NRC put this remarkable concept to the test with actual flight trials. The response from pilots was nothing short of exhilarating. They found the system required minimal adaptation, exhibited no noticeable lag, and, perhaps most impressively, didn’t induce any motion sickness. Even the turbulence effects felt incredibly realistic. Surprisingly, the typical VR drawbacks, such as resolution and field of view limitations, had minimal impact, especially during close-in shipboard operations. It’s safe to say that IRIS has set a new standard for effective and immersive aviation testing.

Publication of Results

The NRC team presented their results at the Vertical Flight Society’s 79th Annual Form in two papers [1]  and [2] and they also have a blog post on their site.

NOTE: Image contents courtesy of Aerospace Research Centre, National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – Ottawa, ON, Canada

Breaking News – LPVR Support for Varjo XR-4

Varjo Releases Stunning New AR Headset XR-4

– The new Varjo XR-4 headset. Image credit: Varjo

A leap forward in XR comes from our partners at Varjo, who have been pushing what is possible in VR and AR for the past few years.

Today, they announced their new flagship series of headsets, the XR-4! And, of course, we have worked with them to ensure that our LPVR software series is ready for it from the start.

The XR-4 boasts unmatched visual fidelity not only of the VR content (expanded to a field-of-view of 120×105 deg) but also of the mixed-reality pass-through, reaching an unprecedented pixel density of 51ppd in the central area. High-tech light sensors give an unparalleled quality of immersion by adjusting to external lighting conditions.

LPVR Support is Ready

All this is great, but what is a headset without a world to immerse in? What is a VR racetrack without feeling the real motions of the car? Varjo clearly understood and prepared, so they collaborated with us to get LPVR ready for the launch of the XR-4.

– Varjo XR-4 headset with LP-Research custom marker holder

We have everything prepared for you!

  • Use your existing camera systems and props to augment the virtual world.
  • Use the industrial-grade precision of ART, OptiTrack, and Vicon tracking systems with the Varjo XR-4 and our custom marker holders.
  • Integrate the HMD with your race-car simulator or fighter jet platform.
  • Do all of this with the XR-4. LPVR-CAD, and LPVR-DUO will make sure that you are tracked perfectly.

 

We offer full solutions of state-of-the-art tracking systems and content using the Varjo XR-4. Contact us for more information.

High-performance Use Cases of LPVR & Varjo Headsets

Components of a VR/AR Operating System

Augmented and virtual reality technology helps boost worker productivity in various fields such as automotive, aerospace, industrial production, and more. Whereas the context of these applications is usually fairly specific, some aspects are common to many of these use cases. In this article, we will specifically explore the topic of pose tracking of Varjo head mounted displays (HMDs) based on LP-RESEARCH’s LPVR operating system. We will further on show two customer use cases that utilize LPVR in different ways.

In a typical VR/AR setup, you find three main subsystems as shown in the illustration below:

With our LPVR operating system, we connect these three building blocks of an VR/AR system and make them communicate seamlessly with each other while providing a simple, unified interface to the user. Depending on the specific use case, users might select different types of hardware to build their VR/AR setup. Therefore LPVR offers a wide range of interface options to adapt to systems from various manufacturers.

LPVR Flavors

LPVR operates in different flavors, we can group end applications into two categories:

  • LPVR-CAD – Static AR/VR setups, where multiple users operate and collaborate in one or more joint tracking volumes. These tracking volumes can be situated in different locations.
  • LPVR-DUO – AR/VR systems that are located in a vehicle or on a motion platform: such systems have special requirements, especially on the tracking side. If, for example, you would want to track a headset inside a car, displaying a virtual cockpit anchored to the car frame, and a virtual outside world fixed to a global coordinate system, means of locating the car in the world and referencing the HMD locally in the car frame are required.

 

In the following paragraphs, we will introduce two customer use cases that cover these two basic scenarios.

Large-scale Industrial Design at Hyundai

– Varjo XR-3 at Hyundai Design Center with optical markers attached. Image credit: Hyundai

For the Korean automotive company Hyundai Motor Corporation, we created a large, location-based virtual reality installation at their research and development center in Namyang, Korea. The system is used to showcase, amend and modify prototype and production-ready automobile designs.

This application uses optical outside-in tracking and LP-RESEARCH’s LPVR-CAD solution to track up to 20 users wearing head-mounted displays. While LPVR allows a mix of different headset types to operate in the same tracking volume, the Varjo XR-3 gives the most outstanding performance to inspect objects in high resolution and great detail. Additionally to an HMD, users carry hand controllers for a total of more than 40 tracked objects in a space close to 400 sqm.

– Hyundai’s collaborative virtual reality design experience. Image credit: Hyundai

Responsiveness is achieved by using LPVR-CAD to combine data from the inertial measurement unit built into the headsets and information from the optical tracking system. The optical system uses 36 infrared cameras to track the 160 markers attached to the HMDs and hand controllers. Perfectly smooth and uninterrupted position and orientation data of each user’s HMD is achieved by using LP-RESEARCH’s sensor fusion algorithms.

Depending on the type of headset, users either wear a backpack PC, connect to a host wirelessly or use an extra-long cable to connect directly to a rendering PC outside the tracking volume.

“Currently, we are actively utilizing VR from the initial development stage to the point of development. In the future, we plan to increase accessibility and usability by simplifying equipment using wireless HMDs. For this, improving the speed and stability of wireless internet is essential, which we plan to address by introducing 5G. In addition, LP RESEARCH’s technology is essential for multi-user location sharing within a virtual space.” – SungMook Kang, Visualization Specialist, Hyundai Motor Company

Next-level Automotive Entertainment with CUPRA

Imagine.. playing Mario cart, your hands are gripping the wheel, and you are in Neo Tokyo, on a race track. Futuristic buildings keep flying by while you race ahead, drifting into long turns and leaving your competitors behind you.

Now imagine you are no longer in your living room, you are sitting in an actual race car, buzzing around in an empty parking lot. Instead of looking through the windshield with your own eyes, you are wearing a Varjo XR-3 HMD. What you see outside the car is a virtual world, it’s Neo Tokyo.

– The view through the Varjo XR-3 headset. Image credit: CUPRA

As the car moves on the parking lot, you move inside the virtual world. When you move your head inside the car’s cockpit, the motions of your head are accurately tracked.

– Varjo XR-3 inside the cabin of the Urban Rebel. Image credit: Fonk Magazine

– Cupra’s Urban Rebel drifting on the test course

Together with the Norwegian company Breach VR, we have implemented this experience for the automotive company CUPRA. CUPRA is relentlessly pushing the technology of their vehicles into the future, striving to provide a novel driving experience to their customers.

Tracking of the vehicle and the Varjo XR-3 inside the vehicle is achieved with LP-RESEARCH’s automotive tracking systems LPVR-DUO. As the headset’s gyroscope sensors record the superimposed motion data of the car and the user inside the car, a specialized sensing system, and the algorithm are required to separate the two.

The result of this cascade of exceptional technology is a compellingly immersive driving experience of the future. The combination of an outstanding visualization device like the Varjo XR-3, LPVR state-of-the-art tracking, BreachVR’s 3D software and design and, last but not least, the incredible CUPRA race cars make for an exciting ride that you’ll greatly enjoy and never forget. Come and join the ride!

Check this blog blog post in the Varjo Insider Blog.

Check out our Instagram for further use cases with Varjo’s HMDs: @lpresearchinc

Our VR Headset In The News

Our booth caught TIA's eye.

Our booth caught TIA’s eye.

Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016 is over but we still get great responses from the fair. It was such an amazing day, thank you once more! Moreover TIA reported on us again, this time in their round-up of interesting booths. It was our new Virtual Reality headset that caught their eye because it made our booth “more attractive and interactive”. Indeed, many visitors were eager to get their hands on it.

If you would like to know more about how we use sensor fusion for VR headset tracking, watch our demo video over here. This is a just a preview, we will give you more updates in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, read the round-up coverage on the Tech in Asia blog over here.

“Going through their portfolio feels like browsing the future.”

Tech in Asia featured us on their blog

Tech in Asia featured us on their blog

We were featured on the Tech in Asia blog as one of eight startups with fresh approaches, ranging from restaurant recommendations via Instagram to a wearable camera that takes pictures with the blink of an eye.

And that is what they said about us:

“This promising startup develops advanced sensor technology, and is currently working on creating a novel type of AR goggles. Their sensitive 3D orientation sensors can be used in different fields from sports to medicine, and even function in naval environments. LP-Research frequently collaborates with other players in hi-tech solutions, from accurately navigating autonomous drones for the European Space Agency to creating innovative solutions for human-device interaction with Google ATP. Going through their portfolio feels like browsing the future.”

Thank you so much, we are so happy!

Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016 has started today. Please come by and visit us in our booth on Wednesday, September 7. Looking forward!

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