TECH
07/05/2014 06:44 BST | Updated 07/05/2014 06:59 BST

Norwegian Army Using Oculus Rift To Build Virtual Reality 'Transparent Tanks'

The Norwegian Army has announced it is testing virtual reality systems to create 'transparent' tanks.

The idea is to give drivers fully immersive video goggles and a wide 185-degree view of the battlefield, while remaining safely inside the vehicle.

The army is currently using a prototype Oculus Rift headset for the tests, but has not made any decisions about which system to go with if and when they decide on a full roll-out.

Oculus Rift was recently purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, and there have as yet been no announcements about any possible commercial release for the device.

But it has regularly won rave reviews from testers, developers and journalists since its limited 'alpha' launch last year.

And now the Norwegian military seems increasingly convinced.

The system uses cameras attached to the front, sides and rear of the rank, which are relayed to a computer and combined into a single image.

Another problem at the moment is familiar to Oculus users - it makes you feel sick. Drivers apparently reported experiencing motion sickness after just a few minutes use. Oculus is working on fixes for these issues, and the most recent edition is said to have made big progress. But clearly there is a long way to go yet.

The tests began last year and were upgraded in April.

"It is a partial success," said project leader Maj Ola Petter Odden, in an interview with the BBC.

"The concept is sound, but the technology isn't quite there yet. The picture quality is good for 10-15m but after that it is difficult to distinguish details, for example whether an opponent is carrying a weapon."