Mirroring reality

20 November 2019

Immersive media or technologies that attempt to create or imitate the physical world through digital simulation are becoming increasingly common in the nuclear sphere. Now a new product aims to reflect reality without the need for headsets.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND IMMERSIVE DISPLAY systems are gaining traction in the nuclear industry for training, verification and design purposes, but they have limitations. Immersive environments typically use a series of projectors or screens to present images. Although users can work collaboratively in these environments, they do not typically offer a real sense of 3D and depth. Virtual reality headsets can help to overcome this problem. But they usually only accommodate one person at a time, which can limit collaborative exercises. Headsets can also feel bulky and uncomfortable, their use is time-limited due to eye fatigue and virtual reality sickness, and the technology can suffer rapid obsolescence. These factors combined can impact the quality of training and impact the experience.

Earlier this year, simulator company L3Harris launched a new product, which enables teams to interact with each other in an immersive 3D virtual environment without the need for VR headsets.

Dubbed ‘Reflected Reality’ the systems uses curved mirrors and a curved projection screen, which rely on virtual imaging technology, based on the science of controlling the shape and location of imagery reflected from large curved mirrors. The technology creates an accurate sense of depth and allows users to view 3D imagery without the need for head-mounted devices.

“Whether performing actions on complex equipment, enhancing worker knowledge, conceptualising and designing Small Modular Reactors, planning plant outages or modernisations, monitoring and managing fleet operations, or decommissioning end-of-life plants, Orchid IX provides a safe and highly realistic virtual world to get it done right,” says Michael Chatlani, vice president of business development for the Power Systems and Simulation business at L3Harris.

“It’s also a great addition to visitor centres to virtually showcase high-value assets and improve the learning experience for the public.”

The product, Orchid IX, is available in three formats — a 2-user Immersive Workstation, a 6-user Immersive Theater and a 15-person Immersive Auditorium.

Orchid IX uses projectors to display images onto a curved projection screen, which is then reflected by large curved mirrors. The image from each projector must be adjusted to account for how the image will appear to the user. The images are then combined so that the user sees a single, continuous image reflected on seven mirrors. The process to achieve this is known as warping and blending.

Main Image: The 20ft diameter immersive theatre supports up to six users

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