Driving an armored personnel carrier in the Norwegian military might become a lot more like playing a video game in the near future. The army there has developed a way for APC drivers to use Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles to make piloting the heavy vehicles significantly easier.
If you aren't familiar with the tech, the Oculus Rift fulfills many of the promises of virtual reality from 20 years ago. It consists of a set of goggles that are connected to a regular computer, and the user's head movements are reflected in the software. It was initially pitched as a device to bring a new interactivity to video games, but it found non-gaming uses elsewhere.
In this case, four cameras each with 185 degrees of view have been installed on the exterior of the APC. Software stitches the cameras together into a single image, and it routes to the Oculus Rift goggles that the driver wears. The system provides an unobstructed view all the way around the vehicle, even with the hatch down. The track is even projected forward to know which way the the APC is moving. One of the engineers compares it to driving a tank in the video game series Battlefield, where players can get a bird's eye view while blowing things up.
The technology isn't perfect yet, and this is still a test for now. According to one of the majors running the assessment, the goggles are strenuous on the eyes. However, the evaluation cost only a few thousand dollars to setup with off-the-shelf components, rather than hundreds of thousands with conventional, military-quality hardware. The Norwegian military's goal is to eventually run the Oculus Rift goggles as an operational concept for further examination. Scroll down to see a video of the Rift in action.