The US Navy could soon benefit from a new virtual reality (VR) communication system, being developed by the Mixed Reality Lab at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies.

Officially called E2C2, with the codename ‘Blueshark’, the system is designed to see how VR can transform the way navy personnel communicate and collaborate.

Mark Bolas, director of the lab, explained the value of the new system, and how it’s necessary to develop the technology now to meet the navy’s future demands. Eventually, it could replace the bulky workstations seen in navy ships to create faster and better protected vessels.

“Instead of looking at data on 2D screens, for example, you can have it floating as a 3D map in front of you,” Mark Bolas said.

“If you’re going to build a ship, you better be thinking about the design of that ship at least 15 years before you build it because that’s how long it’s going to take to make it.”

Existing ships were investigated, to see where improvements could be made using VR. The team at the Mixed Reality Lab found that using 3D models was the best way to give personnel a greater view of the surrounding environment.

Coupled with cameras, crew would be able to see further and be able to better support other defence forces.

For example, someone could use the VR system to visualise what a drone is seeing from a first person perspective, as opposed to a flat screen. This could make it easier to assess a military operation in real time.

Mark Bolas explained that although the Blueshark project is being developed for use within the Navy, it may see a commercial release beforehand.

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