Category : Workshop

Virtual trips by BMW

In recent decades, the automotive industry has been actively implementing new technologies in the production and operation of vehicles. At the end of the twentieth century we saw the emergence of on-board computers in supercars, and now models in the mid-market are equipped with them. Parktronics, navigators, and even infrared cameras for night riding have become customary. In the automobile manufacture field, widespread robotized conveyors and computer modeling are widespread in most companies. And BMW announced the use of a new approach to testing of its new models. Now the Bavarian automaker is using virtual reality goggles for it.

HTC Vive helmet was selected for a comprehensive road test. With their help, the BMW experts will be able to take a virtual trip by car, to identify a vision limitation for a driver and passengers, the possibility of the car in different weather and road conditions, dashboard ergonomics, etc. The company is planning to create maximally qualitative simulation for the operator, including the use of sound.

Much attention is paid to the selection of other equipment. The computing power of the simulator will be provided by game computers of the latest generation with water cooling. Photorealism of test trips will be provided by Unreal Engin 4, the latest version of the Epic Games engine. The engine will drive the simulation up to 90 frames per second, which is going to be supported by the latest tools for tracking actions of the HTC Vive Lighthouse virtual reality helmet user. Based on the figures obtained, all the user’s movements will be tracked every few milliseconds, which will give a very realistic effect.

Of course, the virtual simulator testing will not substitute real trips around the city, but BMW does not set such goal. This system is intended for those models that are in the process of developing and designing. Earlier, before commissioning the new car, the manufacturers had to work out a detailed scheme of a future car, create expensive models, prototypes, carry out tests, which almost inevitably identified design vulnerabilities and ran almost the whole process for a new cycle. And this system should significantly reduce costs at the design stage and, in theory, decrease the cost of new Bavarian cars.

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Augmented Reality – NOW

Augmented reality continues to break into our lives; Microsoft representatives have announced about a new headset HoloLens out. Last year, the development appeared in several exhibitions. Apparently, the reviews were so good that the developers have finally decided to start selling. Unfortunately, only developers will have an access to HoloLens, while ordinary consumers can only be content with demonstrations on the news shows.

And what is inside?
Microsoft is not in a hurry to disclose the information about the hardware devices. It is well known that HoloLens contains one inertial unit (IMU), a sensor of environmental changes, a few microphones and cameras. Computing power is provided by 32-bit Intel processor based on Cherry Trail. Two lenses with high resolution are responsible for the image (2.3 million points of light).

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Microsoft is actively attracting partners to work together on their new product:

  • NASA;
  • Case Western Reserve Medical School;
  • Audi;
  • Volkswagen;
  • Japan Airlines;
  • Airbus.

First applications.
The conference “Build” introduced several business applications that had been created by Microsoft and its project partners. Now a set of programs has more a demonstration character, for example: RoboRaid; Actiongram, to work with holograms; virtual tours via HoloTour; Skype, which within augmented reality will hang as a flat screen in the air.
However, in addition to rave reviews, work on HoloLens is far from completed. Presented at the exhibition applications were not extremely difficult, but the hardware part periodically encountered difficulties. The developers have done a stand-alone device that solves the problem with wires, but at the same time limits and HoloTour power.

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Hopes and fears.
It is cannot say that the market has a new competitor for the Oculus or for announced virtual reality helmet from Sony, the augmented reality does not compete directly with VR. It is rather difficult to predict how Microsoft plans are ambitious for HoloLens. Considering the starting price tag of $ 3000, we can only hope that the market will have not just another GoogleGlass wannabe, but a completely new product with unique capabilities.

Images from Microsoft.

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Oculus Crescent Bay: what has changed?

The presentation of third helmet prototype, the pre-release helmet version Rift – titled as Crescent Bay (DK3) – has made acoustics to be the main ascent. The developers have fully managed to cope with this task as the value of audio flow in virtual reality had been underestimated till recent times.

Important changes

It has been proved that presence effect depends directly both view and sound. 3D-sound has been developed based on RealSpace3D technology, which has been created by Maryland University specialists. The result is impressive and now there is a possibility to make rather accurate definition of sound direction and distance to its source. Crescent Bay is equipped with integrated detachable headphones, which can be replaced for your own ones, if you want to. At first, such designers’ idea has caused many discussions among the customers and experts. Though having tried new Oculus, parties concluded that it is not worth paying attention to rather queer construction.
In general, the helmet got much easier than its predecessors not it looks more like glasses with more elegant design. Here we see the advantages. Another important difference lies at another optics improvement: the device uses two separate displays for the first time. In previous version, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 the display had been divided into two sections with high resolution. Independent displays grow resolution capacity and image quality. The image update frequency is higher than the one of DK2. The device has grain effect on image.
Another important trait is the option of head movement track for 360 degrees. It became possible due to infrared lights located from 4 sides of the device. Developers admitted that such effect was rather difficult to attain.

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Some critics

Disadvantages found by DK3 users. There are not much of them:

  • There are the cases of deep basses lacking;
  • When moving the head the surrounding units tremble distorting the image reality;
  • At the same time, the headphones design is far from perfect.

The main issue lies at PC capacity. The Oculus founders closely collaborate with Unity and Unreal Engine 4 developers, allowing users to hope for soonest options improvement. Besides this, the Crescent Bay goes well ahead of its competitors as it can be used in applied activity spheres.

Images from arstechnica.com

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Oculus DK2: features and functionality

The Oculus founders announced that they need 10 years to get ideal plunging into virtual reality. What can customers get now, then?
118,000 Oculus DK2 helmets had been sold in October 2015. Common users who had been dreaming to touch virtual reality have been surprised purchasing of prototype, created for the developers. While, the device price is hardly to be called cheap – $350. At the same time, Oculus has no official representative in Russia, making the price higher.

Is there any sense to purchase DK2 now?

Device functionality

The model functionality is more advantageous, in comparison to the first prototype. Firstly, the helmet is easier to use. The main difference lies at display: the first version had the resolution of just 640×800 pixels for each eye, while DK2 has the resolution of 960×1080 pixels. Device has Samsung Super AMOLED matrix. Another positive moment is a decrease of time of delay between head movement and image changes around 2-3 milliseconds and no delay at refresh mode of 60 hertz. An important matter is an absence of side effects, such as vomiting and nausea, which arose when using the device of older version.
Device potential and options for users:

  • Allmost full illusion of real presence in virtual reality;
  • Gaming with no mouse and keyboard;
  • Immense option in the sphere of device professional usage;
  • Support of the most popular games in future;
  • Software – free access.

Oculus and its competitors

Sony Project Morpheus is the Oculus direct competitor despite the fact that the devices are designed for different user categories. Initially, the Morpheus had been developed for original game console, while Palmer Lucky has announced, at once, that Oculus will not support game consoles and is designed for PC usage only. Both devices have excellent technical characteristics. While DK2 has bigger view angle (100 degrees horizontally and vertically in comparison to the 90 ones of Morpheus) and lenses, for users with sight problems. Sony glasses are more comfortable and convenient.

Generally, the main problem related to DK2 usage is a PC power, so the helmet owners will have to spend big money, to upgrade their PC. If the problem will be solved, in future versions, Oculus might be used both for games and for interactive education.

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Oculus: from the prototype to the Oculus Rift

What to do to make $500,000,000 in 21 – the age when you only get the right to drink alcohol freely? You must be Palmer Lucky, gifted teenager, who really liked video games, films – «Matrix» and “Lawn-mower man”. Just several steps ahead to virtual reality comes itself to you. These steps were the prototypes of Oculus; Lucky has created starting from the age of 17. Before that, he`s been studying and improving others unsuccessful prototypes by experimenting with their optical systems. His work has resulted in the record-breaking sum of $2 milliards, from Facebook, for Oculus Rift, at start-up stage!
Are such expenses worthwhile? Those who`ve seen the helmet presentation at gaming exhibition Е3 2015 have no doubts about ship big success. The impression from Oculus Rift are stunning: it goes about full plunging into virtual reality, which is accompanied by wonderful sound and view.

The helmet has matte and rigid design with smooth lines compensating its rather big size.at the same time the device weight dropped. The helmet lenses got bigger and can be regulated with the help of specially designed mover. Another important moment is that the persons wearing spectacles can use Oculus Rift as well. Built-in detachable earlaps provide volume sound.

The helmet position in space is traced by specially designed sensor on high support. This sensor is sold separately. The optics has undergone significant positive changes: now the image is maximum accurate while the prototypes provided the image rather sharp in its center and deem on the edges. Oculus Rift is supplied with two OLED-displays, having the resolution of 1080х1200 pixels for each eye; increased angle view and the image refresh rate of 90 hertz.

Generally, new technical characteristics are designed to make quick, smooth and accurate image, helping you to avoid some unpleasant side effects, such as headache.

Other interesting information for users? It goes about computer system configuration of course. The main disadvantage, for the moment is the fact that most modern laptops don’t have enough power for Oculus Rift usage. Nevertheless, the developers continue to improve the product and keep searches to make the helmet usable on all types of devices.

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