Headset Equivalent of Advanced Display Systems (HEADS)
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-087
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick - donna.attick@navy.mil
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Headset Equivalent of Advanced Display Systems (HEADS)




ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA205 Naval Aviation Training Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop a novel Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and/or Mixed Reality (MR) headset that performs equivalent to or better than current flight simulator display systems, provides full motion tracking, allows the user/pilot to see all cockpit instruments, minimizes and/or eliminates any impacts to human factor qualities, and allows for at least two users/pilots to interact safely during missions.


DESCRIPTION: Current display systems for aircraft flight simulators are extremely expensive and very large, require a lot of equipment, and are difficult to transport between different facilities. VR, AR, and MR technologies have greatly advanced over the past several decades, and are approaching the same level of performance as modern flight simulator display systems. Current VR/AR headsets are relatively cheap and significantly easier to transport than flight simulator display systems. However, these technologies have not advanced to the point where they can replace current display systems.


Produce a next-generation VR/AR/MR headset for use in place of current flight simulator display systems. The visual acuity and performance of the headset will be equivalent to or better than current flight simulator display systems regarding resolution, refresh rate, brightness, and integration into Naval aircraft trainer systems. The headset will have full motion tracking and allow the user/pilot to see all cockpit instruments via real-time imagery and/or accurate virtual representations. The headset, along with its peripheral hardware and software, will be transportable between flight simulators without the need for permanent fixtures.


Any impacts to human performance factors will be minimized and/or eliminated to prevent negatively impacting the pilot's normal flight operations (e.g., motion sickness, visual distortions, discomfort). The provided references

describe the various human factors issues related to head-mounted displays which need to be addressed through this effort. Formal pilot evaluations and human factors studies should be developed with assistance from the TPOC’s and NAVAIR’s Human Research Protection Official.


The headset should be designed so that at least two pilots can safely interact with each other and practice any mission on any aircraft simulator without adversely impacting their training. The headset should also provide uniform geometric distortions across the display, uniform photometric performance across the display, high resolution wherever the user looks, no color fringing, and a camera system that must provide stereo high-resolution imagery that supports perception of cockpit text, instrumentation, and controls at 90 frames per second [Ref 11]. The headset should address pilot needs including comfortable use of the headset for greater than 30 minutes, weight distribution, 2-D vs 3-D points of view, accommodation and vergence conflicts (e.g., light field displays), and smear reduction.


Other required performance criteria and capabilities are:

  Full motion tracking of the headset

   At least two pilots/users can safely interact with each other

   Real time imagery and/or accurate virtual representations of the cockpit, pilot’s hands, and other pilots/users

   All hand written text, test plans, NATOPS manuals, etc. can be read 18 inches away in an upright seated position

  Instantaneous horizontal field of view – Threshold: 120 degrees, Objective: 200 degrees

  Instantaneous vertical field of view – Threshold: 80 degrees, Objective: 120 degrees

  Binocular overlap of – Threshold 100 degrees, Objective: 120 degrees

   Average frame rate of 90 frames per second

  Screen refresh rate of 90 Hz

  Static spatial resolution no greater than 5 arc-minutes per optical line pair

  Dynamic resolution may not degrade by more than 20% while in motion of 15 degrees per second

   Compatibility with image generators used by Navy simulators such as Aechelon, FSI, L3, and Rockwell Collins

  The headset hardware and software can be used in most aircraft cockpit trainers


Furthermore, the integration and registration of real and virtual world need to take physiological and psychological considerations that engineering alone would not achieve. In other words, the engineering and the integration of hardware and software component is not enough to generate a VR/AR/MR headset. Human factors need to be taken into consideration to address human vision perception, extended wearing comfort issues, and the reduction of simulation sickness. Integrating a VR/AR/MR headset with a flight simulator will greatly reduce the cost and footprint of flight simulators, and could lead to mobile flight simulators that can be mass produced and deployed aboard ships or to bases around the world.


Note: NAVAIR will provide Phase I performers with the appropriate guidance required for human research protocols so that they have the information to use while preparing their Phase II Initial Proposal. Institutional Review Board (IRB) determination as well as processing, submission, and review of all paperwork required for human subject use can be a lengthy process. As such, no human research will be allowed until Phase II and work will not be authorized until approval has been obtained, typically as an option to be exercised during Phase II.


PHASE I: Design a novel VR/AR/MR headset able to meet or exceed the requirements outlined in the Description. Determine technical feasibility through experiments that address extended wearing comfort and simulation sickness from a human factors point of view. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


Note: Please refer to the statement included in the Description above regarding human research protocol for Phase II.


PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a functional prototype of the novel headset. Perform pilot evaluations of the headset’s performance and capabilities. Compare the headset’s performance to current flight simulator display systems. Determine if the headset can be used as a replacement to current flight simulator display systems. Identify, address, and document deficiencies and areas for improvement.


Note: Please refer to the statement included in the Description above regarding human research protocol for Phase



PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Use pilot evaluations, human factors studies, and/or lessons learned from Navy simulator integration (Phase II) to improve on the VR/AR/MR headset design and transition from prototype to producible solution. AR/VR/MR technology is a rapidly growing field, and this headset would match or exceed current consumer and professional-use head mounted displays in terms of display resolution and refresh rate.

Testing this device as a simulation tool, and addressing human factors such as extended wearing comfort, would allow this device to enter the market as a proven display system ready to be utilized in training systems. These training systems could extend beyond aircraft and military applications, into areas such as gaming, entertainment, and private sector training.



1.   Lincoln, P. et al. "From Motion to Photons in 80 Microseconds: Towards Minimal Latency for Virtual and Augmented Reality." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, April 21 2016, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 1367-1376. doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2016.2518038


2.   Billinghurst, Mark, Clark, Adrian, and Lee, Gun. "A Survey of Augmented Reality." Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction: Vol. 8: No. 2-3, pp 73-272. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/1100000049


3.  "Flight Simulation Training Device Initial and Continuing Qualification and Use." 14 CFR Part 60 (2006). https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/nsp/media/14CFR60_Searchable_Version.pdf


4.   Billinghurst, M., Clark, A., and Lee, G. “A Survey of Augmented Reality.” Publishers Inc.: Hanover, 2014. https://www.nowpublishers.com/article/DownloadSummary/HCI-049


5.   Gemperle, F., Kasabach, C., Stivoric, J., Bauer, M., and Martin, R. “Design for Wearability.” Second International Symposium on Wearable Computers, Pittsburgh, 1998, pp. 116-122. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/729537/


6.   Jokinen, K., and Nivala, W. “65-4: Novel Methods for Measuring VR/AR Performance Factors from OLED/LCD.” Society for Information Display, Volume 48, Issue 1, 2017, pp. 961-964. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/sdtp.11810


7.   Kennedy, R., Lane, N., Berbaum, K., and Lilienthal, M. “Simulator Sickness Questionnaire: An Enhanced Method for Quantifying Simulator Sickness.” The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 1993, pp. 203-220. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327108ijap0303_3


8.   Kuze, J., and Ukai, K. “Subjective Evaluation of Visual Fatigue Caused by Motion Images.” Displays, Volume 29, Issue 2, March 2008, pp. 159-166. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141938207000984


9.   14 CFR Part 60 - Flight Simulation Training Device Initial and Continuing Qualification and Use. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/part-60


10.   Melzer, J., Brozoski, F., Letowski, T., Harding, T., and Rash, C. “Guidelines for HMD Design.” American Psychological Association, 2009, pp. 805-847. http://www.usaarl.army.mil/pages/publications/HMDs/files/Section%2026%20-



11.   Patterson, R., Winterbottom, M., and Pierce, B. “Perceptual Issues in the Use of Head-Mounted Visual Displays.” Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2006, pp. 555-573. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1518/001872006778606877

12.   Rash, C., Russo, M., Letowski, T., and Schmeisser, E. “Helmet-Mounted Displays: Sensations, Perception, and Cognition Issues.” Fort Rucker: U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, 2009. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a522022.pdf


13.   Wann, J., Rushton, S., and Mon-Williams, M. “Natural Problems for Stereoscopic Depth Perception in Virtual Environments.” Vision Research, 1995, pp. 2731-2736. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/004269899500018U


KEYWORDS: Simulation; Augmented Reality; Virtual Reality; Display System; Headset; Training



Robert Calvillo





Benito Graniela





Bruce Riner





Geoffrey Tuttle





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