Proceedings Of The Marine

SUM 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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53 Summer 2015 Proceedings Today, other advanced navigational displays are emerging, including 3-D ECDIS. However, these display systems still require users to look away from the situation unfolding out the window. In contrast, head-up display (HUD) systems allow the user to view objects and information in the real world, at the same time augmenting this reality with additional information, such as that from onboard instruments or displays. Head-up display systems have been success- fully employed in commercial aviation, the military, and the automobile industry. So far though, few attempts have been made to intro- duce the technology to the maritime domain. In the Fall of 2009, researchers developed a pro- jectable HUD prototype at California Maritime Academy designed to use within one of the full- mission simulators. Testing included compari- sons with traditional bridge arrangements and with a video-based augmented reality (AR) sys- tem, and results suggested great potential for a maritime HUD, especially in reduced visibility, confned waters, and high-speed operations. Among other benefts such as increased situa- tional awareness, benefts unique to a HUD dis- play include integrating information where it is needed, making "invisible" information visible during lookout, and reducing head-down time. Wearable Immersive Augmented Reality Systems Paralleling the fxed or projection type HUD development are the portable AR devices known as head-mounted displays (HMD) or wearable immersive augmented reality (WIAR) systems. These systems engage the user by pre- senting the virtual parts of the world to the user through embedded or superimposed images, technical information, sound, or tactile sensory information. This can amplify human under- standing, performance, information process- ing, and decision making. WIAR systems may also employ spatial dis- plays, which project AR information onto an object in space, integrating context and environ- mental information, a capability that is useful for multiple user collaboration. HUD simulator evaluations at Cal Maritime. Photo courtesy of S. Pecota, California Maritime. Fixed-base or Head-mounted? There are two basic approaches to bringing augmented reality informa- tion on ships — a fxed-based head-up display (HUD) and the head-mounted display (HMD). Both approaches incur technical, budgetar y, and opera- tional challenges, including: ■ developing the optics required to provide conformal informa- tion (information that appears projected out in the real world where it would be located); ■ providing legible and visible information on the display, considering luminance, contrast, glare, and changes in ambient lighting and background; ■ providing a feld of view that is useful to the mariner; ■ determining where augmented reality information can be accu- rately seen, given the potential for mariner movements around the bridge. Fixed-based HUDs excel in the optical components but have a severely constrained f ield of view, don't support an accurate view for a non- stationary mariner, and can be costly. In contrast, wearable immersive augmented reality (WIAR) systems such as HMDs can track mariner head and body movements. Although they provide a small field of view, they move with the user 's gaze. WIAR devices introduce additional challenges such as potential image lags with rapid head movement; a higher potential to drop, break, or lose the device; limited battery life; and mariner acceptance. Mariners reported being resistant to anything larger than traditional eyeglasses. Despite their limitations, wearable immersive augmented reality navi- gation devices currently enjoy three significant advantages over fixed- based HUDs: ■ they are more readily available; ■ there is far greater ability to customize the display, since many systems are based on mobile operating systems such as iOS or Android; ■ they are far less expensive. Thus, WIAR systems may provide reasonable solutions to the chal- lenges of designing workable mari- time augmented reality navigation systems at a reasonable cost. For these reasons, wearable immer- sive augmented reality applications are being proposed as the focus of preliminary efforts to bring HUD information on ships. Ideally, when fxed display technology improves, a combined HUD/ WIAR navigation system could ofer the advantages of each system.

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