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Boeing Patent In-Flight Virtual Reality System

The Boeing Company, the multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and sells fixed-wing aircraft to commercial airlines, has patented a new virtual reality (VR) technology designed for use in-flight. As opposed to a VR flight simulator or training software, the images attached to the patent clearly demonstrate that this device is intended for passenger entertainment, including movies and videogames.

Two patents deliver all the information required to infer that The Boeing Company has been researching the technology for some time and that the modern trend looking towards a new wave of consumer VR has inspired the company to deliver their own solution. The first of two patents, dating back to October 2012 and yet only published this year, relates to the technology powering the VR device. The description reads as follows:

“A method and apparatus for displaying a virtual environment. First eye position information for a first eye in a head of a person and second eye position information for a second eye in the head of the person is received. A first image of the virtual environment for the first eye is generated based on the first eye position information. A second image of the virtual environment for the second eye is generated based on the second eye position information for the second eye. The first image and the second image for display are sent to the person.”

This description suggests that The Boeing Company are developing a VR head-mounted display (HMD) that includes both eye-tracking and head-tracking solutions. Furthermore, the device would wirelessly transmit information to a central computer. The second patent from the company, filed a year later, uses the same description but also adds the description of input devices. Previously a keyboard and mouse was suggested, but now haptic feedback becomes part of the picture as can be seen in the image below.

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This second patent also goes on to suggest that haptic gloves (item ‘110’ in the image above) and other forms of feedback are likely to be introduced to the device, but fails to deliver any kind of frame of reference for where this technology comes from. There are no further patents relating to The Boeing Company’s own input or feedback devices beyond the HMD at present, however VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on the proposed VR technology.