VR NEWS – VR Glasses
Virtual Reality –
are VR glasses the better CAVE system?
Companies are increasingly implementing virtual reality (VR) systems to visualize 3D CAD objects or rooms. The use of virtual reality helps in optimizing business processes, and it significantly saves money and resources. Two of the most widespread systems that are currently on the market are the CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) and the HMD (Head Mounted Display) or VR glasses.
Both systems can be used by companies and research institutes to visualize 3D CAD files. For instance, some common applications for VR include automobile and airplane development along with the construction of industrial assemblies and buildings. Using virtual reality significantly changes the development processes for assemblies, buildings and machinery, since CAD systems, 3D visualization and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used for faster, more efficient and more accurate development, since these systems accelerate decision-making processes and enable the accurate visualization of calculations and data.
But what are the differences between both systems and which of the two are more suited for use in production in various industries?
The CAVE is comparable to a glass cave, in which the corresponding data is projected. It is similar to Plato’s allegory of the cave, only that the shadows on the CAVE’s walls are brought to life in order to shine in the light of the world in their entirety.
The CAVE is a form of VR that can be used to spatially visualize data. The history of the CAVE begins in 1992. The system was developed by art professor Daniel Sandin, computer scientist Tom DeFanti and computer scientist Carolina Cruz-Neira at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and it made its public debut at SIGGRAPH. Its objective was to create VR at a higher resolution and with fewer tracking errors. The position of the screens was changed so that they were now located right outside in the room.
The CAVE is a cube, and 2-12 projectors or 3D LED walls are used to display images on 1 to 6 sides, creating a three-dimensional, virtual room inside the cube. It can be used to visualize digital objects or spaces, which – by using light glasses – are walkable by several people. This method enables digital images to be viewed by several people at once.
However, the high cost factor and space required by a CAVE have ultimately resulted in this system being used only in large companies and research institutes. Additional applications for CAVE can be found in industry and training, e.g., in flight simulators or simulations of digital prototypes in the automotive industry or in aviation. Among the noteworthy companies that use CAVE is for example Volvo, who use the system to analyze automotives in the design process and to simulate how they behave in a real environment.
The HMD uses glasses for viewing, although they are opaque. An HMD is a pair of glasses that mostly uses 2 displays – one per eye – and the VR glasses’ tracking to display a virtual reality in the room. Due to the glasses, the beholder is completely cut off from their outside world and immersed in a virtual environment.
The story of HMDs begins with the Sword of Damocles (Ivan Sutherland, Quintin Foster, Danny Cohen) 1962. In the 80s, HMDs were usable thanks to the EyePhone by VPL (Jaron Lanier), which was used to explore the first VR software. At first, the glasses were still very heavy and expensive, which made it impossible to wear them for a long time. Nowadays, the glasses are far lighter and have mainly become affordable. Prices sank with the development of the Oculus by founders Palmer Lucky and John Carmack, who developed VR specifically for PC games, thereby giving end consumers the possibility to experience VR as well.
In order to interact together in a virtual room, each person who uses HMDs requires an avatar that individually represents them in the room. This enables location-independent collaboration on 3D data. The advantages of HMDs are its good value for the money, mobility, and flexibility. It makes it easy to take VR glasses to customer meetings and use them across different locations.
Currently, a lot is being done in the field of VR glasses; new products in the form of headsets and software are being brought to market on a regular basis. With the Varjo XR-1, the HMDs now offer the added option of additional augmented reality (AR). At the beginning of February, an additional Mixed Reality (MR) headset was announced for summer 2020, the Lynx R1.
A comparison of both systems
A comparison of HMD and CAVE is both a matter of personal taste and a benefit analysis regarding their respective potentials.
When opting for one of both systems, the question is the following: is the focus on collaborating on 3D data, collaborating at one location or across several locations? The CAVE is ideal for stationary collaboration, whereas the HMD’s flexibility offers an immense benefit mainly for decentralized teams, as well as for presenting prototypes to customers anywhere.
The HMD mainly impresses due to its enormous flexibility for numerous applications, and it does not need continuous development of new programs.
The CAVE in turn serves as a sign of impressive prestige at one’s own company. In addition, the CAVE’s benefit is that it requires only small and very compact glasses that do not completely isolate the wearer from the outside world, and because of which they do not need an avatar either. However, VR glasses now enable HMDs to be used in all sectors where only CAVE was previously used. As it stands now, it seems clear that VR glasses will prevail on the market due to their enormous flexibility, their multitude of applications, and their low acquisition price.
Furthermore, one exciting development is the combination of both systems, which, for example, is what the film industry is currently using. They use an enhanced CAVE and special screens to display actors in a realistic environment and not just in front of a green or blue screen. In addition, VR glasses can be used to view a light version of scenes before filming, allowing for better planning of the individual sequences.
Virtual reality is being used in many areas, and I am excited to see which new applications are yet to come in this exciting field.