Greensea Systems Inc. and Blue Ring Imaging are collaborating to accelerate rapid Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) development in order to enhance Greensea’s pilot/operator performance in the subsea sector.
The two companies were brought together through mutual involvement in the US Navy’s PMS 408 Program of Record (MESR) and a shared desire to improve the man-machine teaming experience.
In this case, the end user is the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician, but this collaboration, backboned by Greensea’s OPENSEA platform, also sets up valuable future developments in the commercial marine and offshore energy sectors.
In this collaboration, Greensea provides the navigation, autonomy, and command and control, and Blue Ring provides an AR/VR visualization app called ‘OctoView’ to provide enhanced situational awareness for Unmanned Systems (UxS) operators. According to Greensea, it is the company’s OPENSEA platform that makes all this possible.
OPENSEA is an open architecture platform, allowing external partners like Blue Ring to be confident that any solutions will develop quickly with separate, protected intellectual property. This means that external partners can commit to investing in their own task, industry or vehicle optimized bolt ons to OPENSEA, safe in the knowledge that they will own these bespoke aspects of the solution that they have invested company time and money to develop.
Blue Ring’s OctoView is an AR/VR app connected to OPENSEA. With OctoView the company has patented key nausea mitigation controls, methodologies, and best practices so that any pilot or operator can use a Head Mounted Display (HMD) in outdoor, rugged environments. Blue Ring’s OctoView interface serves as a middleware between the operating system on the vehicle and the 3D visualization environment which only AR/VR HMDs can provide. According to the company, OctoView allows the remote operation of underwater vehicles to be more intuitive, reducing both training time for operators and task completion times for trained and untrained operators.
“The majority of the ROVs we have been working with while developing our suite of VR and AR interfaces have run on Greensea’s OPENSEA open software and equipment architecture,” said Casey Sapp, CEO Blue Ring Imaging. “OPENSEA is very well understood, respected and thoroughly tested in the underwater vehicle industry. Greensea provides the very latest, highest performing and lowest latency technologies to deal with the vehicle navigation and control, allowing us to concentrate on our competency- the abstraction layer that sits on top of it all.
“Of equal weight to this is Greensea’s open architecture philosophy- in this regard you could say that Blue Ring and Greensea are cut from the same cloth. The two companies are in complete agreement that only open architecture can allow easy and cost-effective integration of new vehicles, equipment, and devices. This shared vision was a fundamental factor in choosing collaboration with Greensea.”
“I’m delighted to add Blue Ring Imaging to the list of inspiring industry partners,” said Ben Kinnaman, CEO at Greensea Systems. “What they are doing in underwater AR and VR is unique to the industry and set to be game changing. VR will change the face of underwater operations, by lowering the barriers to entry of cost and skill requirement. To better understand, protect and defend our oceans we are going to have to put a lot more vehicles out there than we currently have, and our industry is running out of skilled operators. When force multipliers like Blue Ring’s VR and AR interfaces work with a force multiplier like OPENSEA I foresee rapid forward progress toward the goal of getting enough of the vehicles we need doing the subsea jobs we need- faster and at lower cost.
“I founded Greensea with the mission statement to create technologies that improve the relationship operators have with robots such that their work together could be more productive and efficient. I can think of no technology that puts us closer to that ideal than what Casey and the Blue Ring team are developing.”
Initially the integration project between Greensea and Blue Ring, which has been part funded by the US Government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program, working to a scope within the PMS 408 framework, will be conducted using a VideoRay Defender ROV optimized to conduct EOD tasks.