Monday, August 3, 2015

Using OSVR Software in Professional-Grade Simulators

A few weeks ago, I met with representatives from a large multi-national defense contractor. They are looking for high-performance HMDs for a new simulator and wanted to explore some of the higher-end Sensics products.

After reviewing the HMDs, the conversation turned to software. As is often the case, this company uses a special-purpose engine (as opposed to a game engine like Unity or Unreal). The precise tracking hardware for their simulator is still in flux, and could also change between the development and deployment phase. The HMD hardware could also evolve over time.

How can they mitigate development costs in spite of the changing hardware? The easy answer: use OSVR software.

The OSVR software framework supports many HMDs and dozens and dozens of tracking systems and input devices. These are all presented to the application software under one common software interface. For software that works on top of OSVR, supporting a different hardware configuration is as simple as changing a couple of configuration files. No need to recompile the application. Integrating OSVR into a custom game engine is also fairly simple because OSVR:

  • Includes multiple language bindings
  • Supports asynchronous (callback) as well as synchronous (blocking) function calls
  • Provides open-source examples on how to integrate OSVR into other game engines such as Unity, Unreal, SteamVR and Monogame.
  • Makes it easy to define new devices if required
Because OSVR is built on top of VRPN, a de-facto industrial standard in controlling VR devices, it enjoys a very wide range of common as well as esoteric tracking systems. Being free and open source, you can't beat it's price.

We're hoping to deliver HMDs to this exciting simulator, but regardless of what HMD is chosen, I think OSVR software should be strongly considered as a device-independent framework for the simulator.

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