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F-35 helmet Venlet wants

BAE Helmet
Fancy helmet suffered from video lag and jitter that rendered it essentially useless

The problems that plagued the F-35 since the program started aren't limited to issues directly with the aircraft alone. There have also been issues with the high-tech helmet that the F-35 was originally intended to use. The idea for the F-35's high-tech and futuristic looking helmet was to be able to display all the data the pilot needed on the helmet's visor so the pilot could remain focused on the environment.
That high-tech helmet never made it into testing alongside the F-35 aircraft due to issues that made the helmet unusable. The helmet was originally intended to feature a virtual heads up display, video display to show camera feeds from around the aircraft, and an opto-magnetic tracker. The helmet was also originally designed to send the pilot feeds from night vision cameras mounted around the aircraft to keep the pilot from having to wear night vision goggles.
The video feeds that the camera displays for the pilot were crippled with lag and video jitter issues. Vice Admiral David Venlet is now saying a fix for the helmet issues is in the works right now. Venlet said that a "micro-inertial measurement unit" is expected to be the fix for the video jitter issue while "signal processing changes in software and architecture" could fix the video lag issues.
Venlet said, "What I am focused on is seeing he demonstration of those fixes working and being effective. That will be paced out through the remainder of this year and into 2013."

Iron Man headsup
Pilots of the F-35 were supposed to receive a new high-tech helmet, complete with video feeds and a heads up display a la Iron Man.  Issues nearly scrapped the design, but fixes are now planned to try to revive it. [Image Source: Marvel Studios] 
Another helmet fix for issues the helmet has had with acuity and night vision includes improvements to one of the cameras installed on the helmet. The camera improvement expected to fix those two issues. Once the fixes are applied, they will be demonstrated through flight tests or in a laboratory setting according to Venlet.
Until the issues can be worked out with the intended F-35 helmet, an alternate helmet was selected that is constructed by BAE Systems. “I’m not going to let go of that alternate until I’ve got demonstrated performance of the one I really want,” Venlet said.

Source: DefenseNews

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What he really meant to say...
By ElementZero on 5/9/2012 9:35:49 AM , Rating: 5
Venlet said that a "micro-inertial measurement unit" is expected to be the fix for the video jitter issue while "signal processing changes in software and architecture" could fix the video lag issues.

What he meant to say was "So first we watched Iron Man 1. Then Iron Man 2. Then we went back to Iron Man 1...and yeah I think we figured out the problem"

RE: What he really meant to say...
By Etsp on 5/9/2012 10:11:43 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I'm not quite sure what inertia would have to do with jitter in a video stream. It may be that this is a case for an Inigo Montoya quote...
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
It's possible that the "jitter" that the article refers to is the really the stability of the output itself. Perhaps with vibration in the helmet, the video display starts to shake or bounce around a bit, making it rather difficult to see fine details of anything. The video stream itself is fine, but the display is bouncing the image, instead of keeping it steady. Inertia would certainly have a part to play in correcting that type of issue.

RE: What he really meant to say...
By theaerokid on 5/9/2012 11:06:44 AM , Rating: 2
If I had to guess what that means, I'd say it probably has to do with their use of the output of the head tracking unit to apply some sort of displacement transform to the video to display the video relative to its projected position in inertial space. Assuming they're fixed cameras then for example you'd want the video for the "side" view to gradually come into view when the pilot turns their head sideways.

By MrBlastman on 5/9/2012 12:44:08 PM , Rating: 3
If I had to guess what that means, I'd say it probably has to do with their use of the output of the head tracking unit to apply some sort of displacement transform to the video to display the video relative to its projected position in inertial space.

This. If you've ever watched video of a HUD, and then watched video of a JHMCS system, you'll know what he's talking about.

It takes quite a bit to put that little targeting "box" over a real world object on a HUD computationally speaking. Now, try and do the same thing in a helmet... except the helmet isn't standing still fixed to the aircraft anymore, but instead fixed to a pilots head which is moving... as the aircraft is moving relative to the target. All of a sudden the computational requirements have been increased greatly.

What I don't understand here is why they might be having problems like this when the JHMCS does a pretty good job at keeping that "box" on the target, well, at least within gimbal limits of the FCR.

As I understand it the F-35 and F-22 are to take targeting beyond just the FCR and actually allow target assignment to be integrated with AWACS--but, when I think this is only for the SA displays such as the HSD coupled with a moving map--once you're in the merge or worse with a target, the AWACS don't update the picture rapidly enough to track every millisecond, hence, the FCR is needed.

RE: What he really meant to say...
By Trisped on 5/9/2012 6:17:38 PM , Rating: 2
He is saying that there was a problem with the video feed not showing the correct information when needed. This is a result of not knowing exactly where the head/helmet was pointing. The micro-inertial measurement unit should allow more accurate tracking of the head, which will result in the video being what it should be.

In essence it is like going from a cheep 400 DPI mouse to a 2200+ mouse when playing an FPS. With the 400 DPI mouse you could do most of what you needed, though you either had a hard time turning quickly or you had a hard time aiming accurately. With the 2200+ DPI mouse you can turn quickly and have accuracy.

The micro-inertial measurement unit will allow them to have more accuracy.

RE: What he really meant to say...
By FaaR on 5/9/2012 11:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
A note about DPI and supposed "accuracy"; there's no actual "DPI-ness" in a mouse, it's a total misnomer. Mice do not function or track in any kind of "dots per inch" manner.

Also, a mouse with a higher "DPI" (which, again, is an inaccurate term) will just move the mouse pointer faster on-screen compared to a mouse with a lower "DPI". That does not mean it has higher accuracy, quite the opposite really.

Tracking accuracy, both for older style mechanical and current optical mice is not related to the mouse's "DPI-ness". Also, human hands aren't terribly accurate, so a very high DPI setting on a mouse will just lead to jerky and imprecise movements. That's why some gaming mice have "sniper" buttons that actually lower the "DPI" when pressed, so that you can aim precisely...

RE: What he really meant to say...
By bobsmith1492 on 5/10/2012 8:46:03 AM , Rating: 2
Might "DPI" be a vague reference to the resolution of the imaging sensor that detects the mouse's position? As in, better resolution on the sensor allows more precise movement and faster movement simultaneously?

By DBCooper71 on 5/10/2012 8:19:24 PM , Rating: 2
Faster, yes; more precise, doubtful

By chromal on 5/9/2012 11:40:23 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe next time, you should implement and debug the technology BEFORE offering to sell it on a vehicle platform. If we did this with something important, say, the oxygen system on F-22As, people could die. Oh, wait...

RE: stupid
By Solandri on 5/9/2012 3:24:51 PM , Rating: 5
Of course! You've just solved the biggest problem plaguing the software industry. They simply have to debug BEFORE selling!

If the oxygen problem on the F-22 were that simple, it would've been found and fixed already. As anyone who writes software (or designs anything) can tell you, it's impossible to make something bug-proof. Bugs creep in because of unforeseen interactions. And unforeseen things are by definition not foreseen, and therefore you don't even know that they're a problem which needs fixing until they occur in use. You can implement some coding/design guidelines which help minimize them (KISS, code reuse, etc), but the only way to prevent them 100% is to never code or design anything.

As for selling it on a vehicle platform, stuff like this is cutting-edge, never been done before. The military funds it because it likes the idea and wants to take a crack at making it real. The point isn't for the company to make a working prototype on their own dime, then offer to sell it to the military. The point is the financial risk of the idea is so great that no company's accounting department would authorize trying to make it. So the military funds the company to research and build this to see how possible/how difficult it is to make it real.

Your way of thinking is what's killing tech innovation today - MBAs becoming CEOs who insist that their R&D departments justify the cost of every R&D project. The whole point of R&D is you don't know ahead of time what will or won't work. So you try out dozens of ideas, most of which fail. But one gem works, advances the state of the art, and makes you tons of money.

Easy Fix
By Tunnah on 5/9/2012 9:57:39 AM , Rating: 5
Just install FFDShow, always fixes my video problems..

Motion Tracking
By titanmiller on 5/9/2012 3:41:07 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if it would have been better to implement motion tracking cameras in the cockpit that track the helmet motion instead of integrated inertial reference units? The motion capture systems that movie studios and video game studios uses have a very high refresh rate and accurate tracking.

Perhaps the two technologies could be used together to help filter the jitter.

RE: Motion Tracking
By bobsmith1492 on 5/10/2012 8:48:27 AM , Rating: 2
Too slow. The image has to update as fast as you move without trailing behind at all. Inertial sensors/accelerometers require minimal processing to detect and process movement but image/video processing is much more intensive.

By MrBlastman on 5/9/2012 11:18:25 AM , Rating: 2
I still wonder how much better this is going to be than the current generation JHMCS systems used in the F-16, F-15 and F-18?

By drycrust3 on 5/9/2012 5:28:07 PM , Rating: 1
Totally agree. To me (and knowing next to nothing about the military environment), the F35 should have been able to fly into battle using a stock standard "off the shelf" helmet because, in a battle situation, if the custom F35 helmet fails then your backup plan should be "get a regular helmet from stores while your plane's being refueled", your backup plan should not be "park the F35 over there and then ring around and find an F16 no one is using."

By Basilisk on 5/9/2012 11:24:35 AM , Rating: 2
F-35 Augmented Reality Helmet May Finally Reach Pilots, Thanks to Fixes

+ Yes, it may .
+ "Thanks to fixes"... well, what else leads to repaired parts?

The Headline suggests a near-term deployment, but it's a year off IFF they succeed in their planned changes -- and military high-tech solutions always arrive in a timely manner, right? The current, quite dysfunctional unit was ten years in design, development & testing.

How about a reasonable title like "F-35 Augmented Reality Helmet v.2 is now in development... maybe this one will work", or "F-35 Helmet's 10 year development boondoggle continues another year". I'm sure the first version was crafted with just as much focus on success as the next version.

N.B.: The F-35 was designed without a HUD as that was to be supplied by the helmet; according to some, this helmet and the new sensors it "displays" [including 360 degree view and night vision] were supposed to compensate for the plane's limitations, raising it to a competitive craft.

By judasmachine on 5/9/2012 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
AMD finally released new drivers.

soooo cool
By DaveAnderson on 5/11/2012 7:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
awesome stuff. The future of dogfighting might be changed alot by this.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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