A Crazy Helmet That Lets You See 360 Degrees At Once

Ever want eyes in back of your head? How about one better: a helmet that shows you front, back, left and right, all in one image.

The human field of view is roughly 180 degrees. That’s pretty impressive if you think about it--practically speaking, you can see almost half the world going on around your body without moving your head.

But researchers at INRIA want it all. So they’ve developed the FlyVIZ, what claims to be the world’s first head-mounted display that gives a full, 360-degree view of the world. In other words, the FlyVIZ allows you to look front, back, left, and right at all times.

The invention itself is a bit of a hack. FlyVIZ uses a Sony Personal 3D Viewer (advanced cinema goggles, basically), combined with a super panoramic camera sitting on top the device. The camera beams its feed to a laptop, which distorts the 360-degree image to fit inside our field of view, then sends that image to the Sony Viewer.

Technically speaking, the idea really isn’t all that complicated--no doubt, much of the hardware could be miniaturized to fit in something svelter such as Google Glass. Plus, according to researchers, most participants can adjust to the 360-degree experience within about 15 minutes. Which begs the question, just what could we do with such technology? Immediately, use cases in vehicles come to mind, where a driver would never face a blind spot again. In pro sports, the FlyVIZ could be a huge strategic advantage, allowing more shaken tackles and blind passes. And for police officers, FlyVIZ could enable a safer means of walking the streets.

There’s just one catch: Our species has evolved to visually process less information, and we can’t begin to focus on all the 180 degrees of view we have now. Can we make a full 360-degree comprehension adjustment, just because the 3-D space has been squeezed into a tighter field of view--to not just walk around and catch balls without stumbling, but perform all tasks with the split-second accuracy humans need for the simplest of operations? I’m guessing that’s a question for a lot of field testing. In the meantime, FlyVIZ is certainly an intriguing idea in the field of human perception.

See more here.

[Hat tip: Dvice]

[Fly Image: Subbotina Anna via Shutterstock]

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3 Comments

  • Maxfrost Dod

    Unfortunately in my experience with similar systems, when the image(s) are "squished" into the screen that fits our viewing area, some details that are available at longer distances are lost or made smaller.  This is a detriment in things like driving or in motor sports (actually anything where fast paced action is the norm) due to things that approach the viewer appear at a "dilated" rate of speed (since the image is "squished", things approach faster).  Just my opinion; technology could have improved past my experiences.