Robot skull measures VR and AR headsets from any angle
The Buddy test system measures VR and AR headsets with up to six degrees of freedom.
Optofidelity, the Finnish manufacturer of screen measurement systems, developed what is probably one of the nightmare-fueling test platforms ever, “Buddy.” Attached to a jet-black robotic platform is a (partial) model human head with a proprietary vision module that tests virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses.
With a headset placed on the model, two cameras in the artificial skull imitate eyes. An advanced version of the system handles tests in all six degrees of freedom. Buddy’s best design to date is capable of examining many headset parameters with full freedom of movement.
Robot tests for AR and VR headsets
Numerous axes enable the system’s testing versatility. The frame slides sideways on a floor rail, rotates around its axis, and raises and lowers the “artificial head.” This imitates free movements that real headset users also perform: forward/backward, up/down, left/right, nodding, rolling, and yawing (turning sideways).
The main areas of application are development departments and production lines for VR and AR headsets. Examples include calibration, performance tests, and examining software content. In addition to image quality factors such as sharpness or color fidelity, the tracking systems also find problems such as deviations.
The manufacturer provides information on all VR headsets compatible with the testing system. Optofidelity also describes the setup as relatively uncomplicated. All the necessary components are included. Buddy, therefore, replaces even complex laboratory setups, according to the promotional material.
An important metric is the “motion-to-photon latency”. It measures the delay between a head movement and its visible implementation in the virtual world. If the latency is too high, the backdrop moves too late, which can cause nausea or a weaker sense of presence.
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How stably objects remain anchored in the world or in front of the head can also be checked. Thanks to a novel synchronization technique, modern and future screen technologies should also remain measurable. These include OLED, light field displays, and projection-based screens.
Three or six degrees of freedom
Data sheets on the official website largely focused on previous iterations of the Buddy system with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). This restricted version only moves on a fixed base, instead of also sliding sideways on a rail across the floor.
The motion-to-photo analysis described can be performed here at a frame rate of up to 120 hertz. Simulatable pupil distances range from 55 to 75 millimeters, which also imitates very narrow and wide eye distances.
The official Optofidelity Buddy website lists further technical details, including the “Robotics Specifications” for fine details such as movement speeds or possible deviations. There, the 3DOF variant can also be examined during a test run with Hololens. Optofidelity provides prices for the Buddy systems on request.