History of the development of technologies of augmented and virtual reality

in technology •  9 months ago


Many interesting developments were modernized and improved in the laboratories of the military industrial complex.
Last year, in the United States, special AR / VR equipment was provided for the army.

Thanks to the novelty, servicemen will be able to participate in large-scale exercises, in fact, without leaving the territory of the training center or laboratory. The geo-referencing to the polygons is completely eliminated. It becomes possible to attract numerous participants with different experience of conducting military operations. There are new virtual missions. In fact, the American research laboratory is working to create a synthetic learning environment where the augmented and virtual reality will be used together. This training program is part of the development concept of the US Army Force 2025 (F2025B - Force 2025 and beyond).

And also on the naval exercises Trident Warrior 2017 were tested points augmented reality.

Glasses are designed specifically for gunner gunners. The fact is that on some guns the aiming is done manually. Now the officers will not give orders in a voice, all messages will be transmitted in the form of graphic information, over a high-speed communication channel. A special target label and further instructions appear on the gunner's display. Here information on the weapon itself and ammunition consumption are displayed. It is possible that this year this technology will go to the fleet and the US military.

Here is the recent film by Steven Spielberg "The first player to prepare" is apparently intended to draw attention to the industry AR / VR, perhaps there is in this some marketing move. I like all sorts of futuristic novelties. But for starters, I suggest turning to history. Otherwise, the time will come, and we will ask a question.
How did it all start?

Historical digression

Strange as it may seem, the idea of ​​creating a kind of reality into which one can plunge has originated in a person who in general is not an engineer by profession. However, the fact that he is an inventor, by vocation is a fact. Morton Heylig was a Hollywood cinematographer. He invented and decided to patented the installation, which he called the Sensorama Stimulator. It is considered that this particular installation, which showed the same movie in 3D format, marked a new era of virtual reality. In my opinion, this is only the first sample of a slot machine in 3D or 6D format, which today generally perform the function invented in 1957.


Morton always moved around Brooklyn on a bike is possible on such a trip, he decided that he would record a short but dynamic film. It was he who showed it in the Sensorama Simulator installation. The screen was in a special chamber, closed from external light sources. Man, thrusting his head into this dark space plunged into an environment where there is a stereo sound, and fans simulate the whiff of the oncoming wind. All the virtual sidewalks and potholes on the roads cause vibration. However, the development did not find support from investors. Heylig never realized his business idea, on an industrial scale.

Only eleven years later something more in demand appeared.

In 1968, a Harvard professor, Ivan Sutherland, completed work on an unusual device. It is this design that can be considered the first helmet in the world of augmented or virtual reality. The helmet turned out to be so cumbersome that it had to be hung on special fasteners to the ceiling. The mechanism is very uncomfortable, the design occupies the entire room. The functional also proved to be quite primitive. The helmet was called the "sword of Damocles".

About a year later, the US Air Force presented a new conceptual development for aviation "The Super Cockpit".

In fact, these are indicators collected on a small section of the windshield. With the help of the novelty, most of the dashboard data: speed, fuel quantity, airplane position in space, pitch angles and other aviator characteristics were displayed in one place. It took a decade to implement the engineering idea in such a performance.

However, the technology was used not long only from 1986 to 1989.

Historically, it was precisely the military aviation that began to actively use the augmented reality by making combat sorties. This was the first real experience of using the new development. This solution added ergonomics. The instrument panels, spread out over the cockpit, were now located in one place. All important indicators were right in front of my eyes.

In the USSR, the first airplane equipped with indicators of the windshield was a Mig 27k bomber.

Over time, the gadget has been modernized and the quality of information processing has improved. The review became more extensive. On the basis of this, it was decided that it was necessary to engage in the development of a helmet-based target designation system.

In the technical task, very unusual ideas were voiced. For example, a pilot when entering the target square and when an enemy is detected must indicate the target by turning the head. This would reduce the target detection time and reaction speed. The new development was first tested on the Su 27 and Mig 29 fighter aircraft.

At the same time, in 1992, the term augmented reality began to appear in the vocabulary of researchers at the civil aviation research center Boeing.

Engineer-designers in cooperation with the assemblers decided to introduce AR devices into production. There was a need to complement the actions of engineers with certain comments and background information right in the assembly shop. The technology has been applied so that workers from the same time refer to drawings, specifications and other auxiliary aids with AR. For example, the actions of the installer of radio electronic equipment are transformed into a kind of sequential quest with prompts. In Boeing, projects of this kind continue to develop to this day. In particular, AR is applied during the internship stage. New employees especially need an intelligent tutor.

The AR technology in this case is designed to reduce the number of failures accomplished by trainees. As a reference, which is always at hand if you are more accurate before your eyes.

In some cases in production, this avoids the ordinary and standard errors in the assembly of complex electrical circuits.
Thanks to VR technology, the total build time is also significantly reduced.


Military engineers also did not lag behind. There was an idea to combine the capabilities of a helmeted target designation system and windshield indicators, so that all information automatically appeared before the pilot's eyes depending on different situations.

We decided to make the augmented reality maximally extended. It was supposed to contain information about objects on the ground and in the air. Information about friendly and enemy units of technology as below on the ground, and on the entire flight path in the air. It was decided to use infrared cameras that process the space around the aircraft. The body of the fighter began to attach a lot of external sensors and cameras, which send information in the form of small marks and special symbols in the helmet of the pilot.

Looking down the cockpit, the pilot sees a metropolis, steppes, mountains and rivers, everything under the wing of the plane. Turns his head back to see not the chair, but the sky, the earth and the accompanying carriages. In addition, functions of approximation and distance of objects have appeared. Such a helmet does exist, it got the curious name "God's eye". Used in F35 fighters.

Russia, in turn, presented a helmet with the NSCI at the forum "Army 2015" (helmet-type targeting and indication system). However, he was tested on helicopters of Mi 28 type "Night Hunter". Also included in the set of equipment on the T50 fighter.

Military historian Dmitry Boltenkov:

"Currently, a similar TopOWL system, developed and released by Thales, is used on transport helicopters NH-90 and Tigr shock. The system, adopted by the armed forces of France and Italy, showed itself well during the operation in Afghanistan. The effectiveness of the use of guided weapons in the night conditions has grown at times. Also, it became much easier for pilots to perform night flights in the mode of circumventing the terrain when a helicopter flying at an extremely low altitude, hiding from the observation of the enemy, flies around various obstacles. "

Thus, we traced the history of the development of augmented and virtual reality. The idea arose among Hollywood cinematographers. Then she was seriously modified in the military industrial complex and today, having completed the aerobatics figures, she descends to the ground, where she will become accessible and popular.

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Haha. That description of the first VR devices is like a more extreme description of the cumbersome and clunky nature of modern VR headsets. It's definitely getting better though.

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