\The Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles may solve a huge problem in the modern military: how do you give tank drivers full views the world outside their hulking vehicles?
The Norwegian Army is using the Oculus Rift along with four cameras with spherical lenses to give drivers a 185-degree view around their tanks, according to a video from Norwegian technology site Teknisk Ukeblad. The cameras are routed to a PC that then transfers the images to the tank driver's Oculus Rift.
Although the Oculus Rift completely obscures the driver's actual vision, driving with the tank's hatches down doesn't offer a much better view, said Maj. Ola Petter Odden with the Army's Combat Lab.
"You normally would be more or less blind, because there is armor all around you," Odden told Teknisk Ukeblad. "With this system, you can see just as well as if you were seeing out the hatch."
The system could offer other advantages, too, such as overlay displays of maps, or the tank's speed, similar to what gamers might expect from something like Battlefield.
And the Oculus setup could potentially provide a more cost-effective system than previously available: According to Odden, the cameras only cost about $2,000 each. The Oculus Rift headset currently is available through Oculus VR's developer sign-up program for $300 to $350, which Odden said is much less expensive than the Army's $35,000 virtual reality headset.
"The fact Facebook bought Oculus Rift that they have strong financial backing, and the development will advance just as rapidly forward now," Odden said.