The year has started on a very firm footing with exciting news from various quarters. These new developments in Virtual Reality, simulator software and our own hardware will push the boundaries of our experience.
LiDAR and Augmented Reality
First off and most notable must be integration of LiDAR technology into VR headsets. LiDAR (or Light Detection and Ranging) is a method for determining ranges by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver.
The cost and size of the technology is reducing significantly, we now have it available in consumer products such as the iPhone 12 and 13 Pro.
By incorporating it into Augmented Reality headsets it allows objects within a certain range to be excluded from the VR world and overlaying it with the real world. The real world image is shown by use of stereo vision(thus 3D) video cameras.
What this means to our HFS cockpit builders is that you can see the physical cockpit and your hands and body while, with the distance set to just outside the cockpit, you have the the virtual world outside your canopy.
This can already be done using the VARJO XR3. It provides pixel-perfect real-time occlusion and 3D world reconstruction. The cost of this is currently prohibitive at around €6500 (with the required base stations) plus an annual subscription fee of €1495. The point though is that costs will come down as the technology is incorporated into other headsets. The Apple AR HMD is mooted to have this already and will be releasing either late this year or early next year. No doubt others will follow soon.
Implications for our Spitfire Mk.IX Cockpit
We will be providing our Build License holders with a design modification during the course of the year which will allow them to retrofit working gauges into their cockpits should they wish to do so. These gauges will work with the DCS World Spitfire Mk.IX and with the FlyingIron Spitfire Mk.IX for X-Plane. With suitable AR enabled headsets they will allow you to view the Real World cockpit while the Virtual World will be seen outside the canopy.
This also opens up the opportunity of running the HFS cockpit with a full surround screen, however that washed out 2D projected technology now becomes distinctly outdated.