Using a combination of stereoscopic split screen camera mounts, lightweight WiFi cameras (transmitting at 2.4 GHz) and a visual headset for smartphones we can implement an easily replicable system for remote viewing and augmented reality using head-mounted display (HMD) systems.
One of the main issues limiting the use of HMDs is that they can induce dizziness and a feeling of sensory deprivation in viewers, even after a relatively short time of using them. In terms of 3D technology in general, HMDs have generally the worse effects than other types of 3D display systems.
This so-called "simulation sickness" is probably based on the human brain's perception of motion, which becomes compromised in a system which has no sense of depth.
Moreover, having a sufficient lag behind the motion of the camera and the perception would also cause discomfort and a sense of lost balance in the user. Hence a fast transmission of the live camera feed is essential.
The system, in outline, can also include controls for the camera, i.e. if it positioned on a robotic arm mount, gimble or UAV. The user would have to practice sufficiently until a natural feel of control is established whereby the user does not have to necessarily look at the controls themselves and effectively pilot the drone in a similar way that we would control a computer game.
The remote wireless camera therefore is designed to be stereoscopic to record the sense of depth. The camera consists of a split screen mount for a camera which consists of a series of mirrors which receive an image from 2 different viewing points of the target image, forming images of the left and right field of view, and reflects each image using 2 parallel mirrors into the a CCD camera focus for recording and/or transmission.
This split-screen stereoscopic feed is then sent via WiFi to a smartphone which displays the split-screen stereoscopic video feed in an augmented reality headset.
This gives a more realistic and comfortable viewing using a VR Headset which includes the sense of depth which would otherwise be lost if we were simply receiving the image from a single lens camera alone.
This sense of depth is an important factor to be included in augmented reality should we be using this live system for steering a UAV "drone" craft where we want to mitigate mistakes made by the pilot as much as possible.
This means we must create as comfortable conditions as possible as to not disturb the pilot and this means creating a visual feed system which is natural to the UAV pilot.
A stereoscopic point of view is more natural for human beings and this helps create the illusion that we are flying from the craft's field of view.
In developing this craft we want to provide lightweight but nonetheless high quality optics.
We have found that by treating the lightweight Plexiglas windows with SiO2 nanoparticles can greatly reduce fogging which can otherwise reduce visibility (particularly in an environment such as Ireland where atmospheric fogs and mists are common). The layer of SiO2 also gives the Plexiglass an extra resistance against scratches and corrosion that plastics are vulnerable to.
Depositing the nanoparticles in water solution is one method to enhance the anti-fogging ability, however it is a wet process and sometimes messy.
We have made further enhancements of this problem by treating a porous glass optic shining cloth, such as those used for shining the lenses of glasses and other optics, with SiO2 nanoparticles and create a layer of SiO2 nanoparticles on the cloth itself which we can lightly buffer onto the Plexiglass windows. (For more see the article written here about the developments made in nano-treated cloths for shining and enhancing optics)
It is hoped that these slight experimental enhancements can give an edge to increase visibility in remote augmented reality and virtual vision systems for use in UAVs and other applications.
Project and Article Designed and Written by MuonRay Enterprises Ireland.