Is a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training different from the ones used for gaming? There are many VR headsets available in the market. How do I select a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training?
These are common questions from industrial trainers trying to implement an immersive training experience. This article attempts to answer some of these key questions.
A VR headset is required for an immersive experience in virtual reality. The proper selection of a VR headset for quality training is vital. Here are some of the parameters to select a VR headset for Industrial Product Training. We can group them into three primary categories.
Immersion: This characteristic represents the natural feeling of presence in a virtual space. A good quality immersive experience is a must in industrial training to provide a technically accurate life-like experience.
The key factors in determining the quality of immersion are:
- Positional Tracking.
- Hand and eye-tracking
- Degrees of Freedom
- FOV: Field of View
- Display Resolution
- Controller Design
Positional Tracking As the name suggests, sensors track the headset position and orientation as well as those of the handheld controllers in the physical space. External sensors are used in outside-in tracking, while integrated cameras are used in cases of inside-out tracking. Fast positional tracking is required to avoid a time lag between the virtual and physical space. In outside-in tracking systems, cameras are placed in the corners of a room. This gives the best accuracy for room-scale experiences but requires a complex setup and calibration process. For an industrial trainer, inside-out Tracking is easier and more practical since no external trackers or equipment are required beyond the headset and controllers, and is useable in a small sitdown space. The Oculus Quest 2 and HP Reverb G2 are two examples of inside-out tracking, whereas HTC Vive and Valve Index use room-scale outside-in tracking with external sensors arranged in a dedicated VR room.
Hand and eye-tracking: The other factors in determining the quality of immersion are hand tracking and eye-tracking. Hand tracking, as the name suggests, tracks the movement of hands to give the virtual reality hand movements and commands like clicks, swipes, etc can be done with gestures. When hand tracking is not available, hand controllers are used. (Read our blog “Put down controller, hand tracking is coming”) Eye-tracking helps optimize the rendering of the content in the central region of the eye gaze. Eye-tracking and hand tracking are available in higher-end VR headsets. Hand tracking and eye tracking can make the VR training experience more realistic. With eye-tracking, a VR headset will render a foveated image that is sharper and more realistic in the center of the field of view. For example, if a user is interacting with a mechanical engine model, rendering of the parts where the user is interacting with hands and eyes will be displayed at a higher resolution than the surrounding objects.
Degrees of Freedom (DoF) is another important parameter that defines the quality of immersion. Three DoF tracks the rotation in space, but not position, whereas six DoF tracks the rotation and position fully capturing physical movement. In six DoF, the positions as Up/Down, Left/Right, Forward/Backward movement is also available apart from the rational movement. Taking the earlier example of an engine, a technician will not only be able to go around the engine but can also move closer or further away.
Field of View (FOV). This is the extent of observable view for a user inside the headset. A larger FOV gives a more realistic immersive experience just like a human with an unrestricted view in the physical world. Higher FOV also implies higher resolution and more graphics power required to drive the headset. Most standard headsets like Oculus, HTC Vive, etc. have FOV ranging from 90o-100o, and high-end headsets like the Valve Index have FOVs of 140o, Varjo has FOV of 115o, and PRIMAX 8K has a FOV of 180o.
Display: A high-resolution display is essential to give a realistic, immersive experience in the virtual world. Lower resolutions result in a pixelated view of objects in the virtual space. High-end headsets have separate displays for each eye to provide the highest resolution per eye in a compact form factor. Displays come in multiple types such as LCD and OLED. OLEDs are thinner making less bulky VR headsets. Higher resolution displays also require higher-end graphics cards and computing power.
Controllers are essential to control the movement and interactions in the immersive experience, especially to virtualize hands-on interaction from complex industrial training. Controllers are wirelessly connected to the VR headset or driving PC, and movement in the physical space is translated to objects in the immersive virtual environment. For example, a user may grab a virtual object and move it around using controller buttons and movement. Controllers are represented by virtual models of hands, controller 3D models, and many times by 3D tools in virtual space. Advanced VR headsets have started incorporating hand tracking where controllers can be replaced by hand natural movements in the virtual environment.
Sound– Last but not least, the 3D spatial sound makes a huge difference to the immersive experience. All high-end VR headsets have built-in headphones with microphones for a surround sound experience.
Headset Comfort- A typical user may use a VR headset anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the application. Therefore it is very important to pay attention to the comfort of a user. Time lag, eye fatigue, and cognitive load can result in extended periods of motion sickness. The following factors should be considered when choosing a VR headset.
- Weight, Fit, and Cushion
- Untethered or Tethered
Weight, Fit, and Cooling are essential factors to consider for the user’s comfort. VR headsets with LCD panels are typically bulky. A VR headset should also have a space to accommodate the spectacles of a user. It should also give the option to adjust the fit with a knob at the back of the head. Some VR headsets have an elastic headband or soft straps e.g. Oculus Quest 2 has fabric head straps.
Untethered or Tethered
A tethered headset requires a connection to a computer with high processing power. VR content as gaming required tethered headsets to give a superior experience. With less computing power, images may be more pixelated and less convincing.
iQ3Connect works both with tethered and Untethered VR Headsets. Just load the URL in a browser and experience the interactive 3D models.
HTC Vive, Oculus Rift are examples of tethered VR headsets. Pico G2, Oculus Quest 2 are examples of untethered VR headsets.
Pricing: The VR headset of the popular models ranges from $399 to $1000 USD. Oculus Quest 2, the VR headset with the highest market share costs around $399, HP Reverb Pro around $649, and Valve Index on the higher end of $999. The pricing depends on the features provided by the VR headset and the utility of the headset for the user and organization. Take your pick and start an immersive experience for your organization.