Tanks have had notoriously limited vision since their invention and deployment in WWI, but the Norwegian Army is looking to virtual reality technology to finally change that in a surprisingly affordable, advanced way.
The key to the new tech is the Oculus Rift VR headset, which creates a 360-degree field of vision for the driver with video feeds from cameras mounted on the outside of the tank. It provides an unobstructed view of the vehicle’s surroundings, and looks similar to the first-person-shooter perspective in the popular “Battlefield” video game series, according to one soldier.
Though still in its prototype stage, the system has numerous advantages over conventional systems according to Norwegian TV station TuTV. The current unit costs about $2,000, while military grade camera systems can cost up to 50 times more according to The Verge.
If moved into broader development, the future system could include transparent, video game-like heads-up displays featuring information including area maps or vehicle diagnostics.
While the users described the eye strain as too great for the Oculus to be used as the default system, they said it could be perfect for combat scenarios when the hatch must be closed.
The Oculus Rift has been making headlines as the most popular and advanced VR experience to date, and has been used in experiences including virtual horror experiences, video games, science experiments, drone piloting and creating entire virtual environments. The tech has spawned numerous other VR endeavors from noted gaming giants like Valve and Sony.
Facebook purchased Oculus last month and plans to further the tech in the video-game realm, and expand it into the world of social media.