Lockheed Martin’s Objective
Lockheed Martin asked Framestore to design a system that could render Mars in real time and account for real environment factors. They wanted to put school kids on a bus and make it feel like they were driving on Mars. As part of the Lockheed Martin Generation Beyond Initiative they asked Framestore to create an immersive experience for children. The project was to create a virtual field trip for a group of children to go to Mars. The goal was create an immersive experience for children to drive on Mars, to inspire future generations of children in technology. Framestore decided to use the Unreal Engine to develop the experience.
The idea was to provide an experience where sight, sound, and motion could all be experienced in a real environment. The aim was to give a new perspective in what a Virtual Reality experience could be. This meant that when the bus turned, the children felt the bus turning and saw them turning on the surface of Mars. When they hit a bump in the road, the display looked as though they bumped on something on Mars. They also built a sound experience so that it sounded like they were driving in a wind storm on the Martian surface.
Screens: The screens were made using 4K display and a layer of film. They were designed to account for what you are feeling inside the bus. Bumps and turns felt on the bus meant seeing the same on Mars. The challenge was to make transparent high definition VR windows as displays (without using goggles).
Driving area and mapping: They created a drivable area of 250 Square Miles in Mars using Unreal Engine. They created a map of Mars that matched the physical map of the roads. As the bus turns, the corresponding turns on Mars look natural to the children on the bus.
Technology: They used a variety of technology included GPS, accelerometers, magnetometer and velocimeters. The combination of these were used for tracking the bus location, recognising the speed so that it could be matched on the drive, and ensuring that the overall experience could be heightened through realistic integration of the real world with drive on Mars.
The result: An amazing experience to inspire the children with the aim of capturing their imagination and getting them interested in future roles in technology. What the kids see and experience is the surface of Mars fully immersive without any goggles. What they feel is what they see and experience. They were provided a fully immersive “4D” experience, whether it was the movement of air in the bus, the sensation of turning or bumping, or the sounds of the windstorm on the surface of Mars.
Was this just a simple Lockheed Martin stunt or experiment, or should we expect this to be the just the beginning? It would seem that having proven the possibilities we could expect to see more. What about a self-driving car experience where you can see whatever you want? Or how about replacing airplane windows with new experiences to watch during a long flight? Or perhaps something we see when we take our next underground, metro, tube or subway?
Needless to say, what Lockheed Martin created was both an incredible proof of concept and a inspiration for our future generations. Lets hope we see more of this for our children to keep them inspired to do more.
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