The problem with a typical display is most obvious when playing games. How many times have you entered a room in a game, only to be attacked from the side? The "field of view" in a game is limited to what a standard monitor can show you -- a small, flat rectangle that represents the environment straight ahead. The field of view is at most 50 degrees, and is something like looking at the world through a small porthole. You cannot see anything above, below, left or right unless you use your game controller to "turn" in that direction. This "motion" with the controller is completely unnatural -- in the real world, you instantly move either your eyes or your whole head to look in a different direction, and the motion is fast and instinctive.
You also have your peripheral vision working for you in the real world. Your eyes easily detect motion off to the side and alert you to look that way. With a computer monitor, your peripheral vision is nothing but a big distraction -- it is showing your actual surroundings rather than the digital environment you are playing in.
A North Carolina-based company, Elumens, has designed a display system that takes peripheral vision into account. The VisionStation consists of a large, curved surface (reminiscent of a large satellite dish), a high-resolution data projector and a wide-angle projection lens.
The result is a display that shows you a very wide field of view, up to a full 180 degrees. An Elumens display takes over your entire visual field, including your peripheral vision. You see not only what is in front of you, but everything above, below, left and right. When you want to see what is "beside" you, you simply turn your head and look. For example, in a driving simulator, you can look out both side windows by turning your head just like you would in a real car.
The experience when watching an Elumens display is very interesting. Because it uses your peripheral vision, the sense of motion is very real. Turning your head to look at objects is very natural. Because the screen is completely smooth, there are no distractions.
There are several models in the Vision series, ranging from the VisionStation, for individual use, to the VisionDome VS-5, which can accommodate up to 45 people.
- Slide 1: The standard VisionStation is 41 inches (104 cm) deep by 63 inches (160 cm) high by 65 inches (165 cm) wide. The display surface has a 5-foot-wide (1.5-m) projection area with a 33-inch (84-cm) spherical radius of curvature for the screen.
- Slide 2: The VS-3 VisionStation is 106 inches (270 cm) deep by 93 inches (237 cm) high by 136 inches (346 cm) wide. The display surface has a 10-foot-wide (3-m) projection area with a 60-inch (152-cm) spherical radius of curvature for the screen. The VS-3 can accommodate from one to six people.
- Slide 3: The V-4 VisionDome has a projection radius of 12 ft 3 inches (3.75 m) and can accommodate from two to 10 people using the LightShell. The dome is 10 ft 3 inches (3.1 m) high, 17 ft (5.2 m) wide and 15 ft 11 inches (4.9 m) deep.
- Slide 4: The V-5 VisionDome has a projection radius of 16 ft 4 inches (5 m) and can accommodate from two to 45 people using the LightShell. The dome is 14 ft 10 inches (4.63 m) high, 19 ft 10 inches (6.1 m) wide and 20 ft (6.1 m) deep.
Key benefits of the VisionStation are:
- It provides an immersive experience.
- It does not require cumbersome head gear for virtual environment.
- It accommodates both real and computer-generated 3-D data.
- It can be set up by two people in about two hours (three to four hours with the Optional LightShell enclosure).
- It is portable.
- It is highly scalable.
- It is as simple to operate as a traditional monitor.
- It can be used for a variety of applications.
- It accommodates a large portion of existing 3-D applications without special porting.
The Vision Series projectors use an LCD projector with resolutions of 1027x768 to 1365x1024 with 24-bit color (16.8 million colors). They support SXGA, UXGA, VGA, SVGA and XGA modes and have HD15, S-Video and RCA connectors. The f-theta lens has a 180-degree field of view and Infinite Depth of Focus. This means that once the lens is focused, everywhere outside the lens is always in focus.