Original Article with video can be found at Teknisk Ukeblad ("Tech Weekly").
TL;DR: Norwegian Armed Forces have launched a project with the intention to put the Oculus Rift on vehicle operator's heads, allowing them 360 degree vision and greater situational awareness - and thus freeing up the vehicle commander to focus more on the larger scale combat situation. (Since most people seem to think that this is for training/education: It is not. It is intended for operative use in combat operations.)
As a former vehicle operator in the Norwegian Army, I personally drool over the possibilities this offers, and I'm certain vehicle commanders feel the exact same way. And having been the platoon designated "lining up all the vehicles guy" because everyone else was piss poor at backing up precisely, it would have freed up a fuckton of my own time
The following is a crude translation of the article by Teknisk Ukeblad, written up by me. If any other natives on Vikingland feel they can offer more precise translations of parts of, or the entire article, please go for it.
Watch the Army drive armored vehicles with the Oculus Rift
The Army is currently trialling the Oculus Rift gaming-goggles in Norwegian armored vehicles.
By Eirik Helland Urke
Published April 15th 2014, 09:09am
The effect can best be described as sitting in a transparent tank. Teknisk Ukeblad got to test an early development version at the Rena proving grounds, with a prototype of the Oculus Rift, and the specially developed camera system.
With cameras on all sides of the armored vehicle and the special goggles, vehicle operators a 360 degree field of view from the vehicle, even with the hatches battened down.
A company in Hamar, Norway, MakingView that has been aiding the Norwegian Army Battle Lab developing the camera system and software.
The special thing about the Oculus Rift goggles, is that the view seamlessly follows the head's movements.
If the vehicle operator turns his head left, he looks straight out of the left camera.
By looking down, he sees straight down unto the tracks of the vehicle, enabling him to parallel park with centimeter precision, without aid from the vehicle commander.
Oculus Rift is mostly talked about in connection with computer gaming, because it allows for a very realistic gaming experience. It's as close as we have gotten to Virtual Reality (VR) to date.
Recently, the company was acquired by Facebook for twelve billion NOK, before a consumer version has even been released onto the open market.
Precisely computer games have been part in inspiring the new systems being tested by Battle Lab at Rena.
- People playing "Battlefield" have much better vision and situational awareness than one has in an actual vehicle. However, with our software, you can add the information you are used to from games, such as map overlays, orientation, tilt and speed, says development manager Daniel Mestervik of MakingView.
Photo: Eirik Helland Urke
For the Army, it's important to be able to implement their upcoming Battle Management System (BMS), a new support system for combat use. It proves itself difficult for personnel to utilize this system in a chaotic and stressfull combat situation, which is why the possibilities of seeing the information in a Heads-Up Display through the use of Augmented Reality with Oculus Rift.
Thus, one can see elements like friendly forces, weapons and minefields overlaid on the terrain, without having to take your eyes off the surroundings to interpret information on separate monitors.
The AR information overlay system being tested by the Army is developed by Augmenti, based in Trondheim, Norway.
Together with Oculus Rift, the system allows the vehicle operator to navigate more independently by the vehicle commander's intention, rather than having to get constant accurate driving instructions, and operate with large blind spots. This allows the vehicle operator to drive independently to a much larger degree, allowing the vehicle commander to focus more on the combat situation at hand.
Photo: Eirik Helland Urke
Major Ola Petter Odden, of the Army's Combat Lab, is optimistic after the first practical tests at Rena.
- This concept shows great promise. We find the goggles to lack the screen resolution to see well at a distance, and they can cause a certain degree of dizziness for the vehicle operator. We believe these issues can be improved fairly quickly, says Maj. Odden to TU.
The tests were conducted with commercial and inexpensive equipment, which opens for large scale deployment in Norwegian armored vehicles. Battle Lab believes the system can be operational in as little as five years, which is quite fast in a military context.
- I can imagine the system being technically mature enough in two or three years, then a qualification period is required to ruggedize the equipment, and make it ready for use in traffic.
He stresses that any introduction to the Norwegian Army depends on how it fits into the overall schedules for material procurement.
Positive with regards to Facebook
Battle Lab are positive with regard to Facebook's acquisition of Oculus Rift.
- We think it's very beneficial, as they now have the necessary funding to develop this further. We also take note that competing systems are beginning to appear, which makes us all the more optimistic that we'll be able to get good enough goggles, says Maj. Ola Petter Odden to Teknisk Ukeblad.
Photo: Eirik Helland Urke