The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has said virtual reality (VR) could be used for a wide range of purposes following its first collaboration with the technology.
It has run a project in which staff based at different sites used VR to meet in cyber space to build a virtual aircraft engine.
The organisation, which promotes innovation for the defence and security sector, said the trial was a success, leaving the way open for more virtual meetings. This could include supporting training for law enforcement and defence agencies – from remote locations if necessary – and helping police and the military respond to major incidents.
One of the Dstl testers said of the trial: “I was standing in a warehouse and could see a table with items. I could move over to it by clicking on the hand controller. Suddenly, I’m near some engine parts, part of an aeroplane on a bench. It’s hyper-real and totally immersive.”
The VR headset and hand controllers allow people to interact, talk to each other, point at and pick up items, and even fist-bump at the end of a successful meeting.
Mike Ferguson, from Immersive Technologies at Dstl, said: “This is the first time this has been done at Dstl. We’ve identified a technology to do it, which presents huge opportunities for shared training, meeting and even new design work.
“Collaborating in a virtual volumetric space, using the latest VR technology, is very new. We’ve tried other systems, but this is the first VR system that we’ve found which is really effective.
“It’s still evolving; in the future we’ll be in a virtual space as ourselves and be able to see lifelike avatars. It’s connecting with people.”
He added that Dstl is interested in developing the technology to support training, and that doctors could one day use it with augmented reality tech to perform operations remotely.
Image by Oleg Afonin, CC BY 2.0