NCFD device for remote control flying.
The market is now mature in terms of telemetry data return.
A large number of devices are available and some of them, like our ASSI unit, offer a very large and unique number of data feedback.
However, there is a large gap between the data available and how to exploit it for RC pilots. Apart from our Android app, very few manufacturer offer a decent way of getting the feedback to us.
Audio return is one way, however it is very well known that in case of high brain workload, hearing is the first sense to disappear.
While flying fast RC jets, it is not uncommon to completely miss audio information from the telemetry system while performing a complicated aerobatic maneuver, or while flying very close to the ground at high speed.
The visual feedback is essential to the pilots as this is the last sense to disappear in high workload/ stress condition. But there is a big obstacle for RC pilot: we need to see what's going on in the sky and we often cannot afford to look down at parameters and loose the sighting of a fast flying tiny aeroplane.
Dual screen configurations are nice and offer un-matched comfort and flexibility in programming, but they are very limited in terms of telemetry ergonomics, because they are head down type. Giving the second screen to your spotter is a very nice solution but it does not answer the request for having a direct feedback to the pilot. Additionally, spotters might also face the challenge of having to both look at your plane and the display.
So the next step is to offer visual feedback close to the central vision field of the pilot.
Real size aviation call this HUD or Head Up Display. A collimated transparent screen display information laid down in front of the pilot's windscreen.
Is this really what we need?
Not exactly. The reason is that our flying objects are often tiny and right in the center of the vision field, where our eye display the highest definition. A few pixels in front of a tiny black dot will completely obliterate the vision of it and specially the contrast and shades that enable us to see if the plane is banking right or left at a distance.
So what is the solution?
Near Center Field Displays.
Our visual field is not uniform and vision definition fades away rapidly from median line of the retina that represents the line-of-sight.
Below is a diagram in 3D showing how fast the vision definition fades away as objects are displaced from this line that ends up at the point-of-fixation.
A projected view of our visual field accuracy would look like this:
The center field is this "island of high definition" that is shown above. It is generally extending from 24 to 30 degrees around the point of fixation.
It extends a bit further on the outer lower corner of each field. This is where we would place a display at best for our RC flying use.
Why below and not above like real size HUD? We, RC pilots need to see whats' going on in the sky, whereas full size pilots need to see what's going on down in the flight deck on their instruments. Our "not-so-vital" zone of vision is the bottom area where the ground is. For real size pilots it is more in the top corner of the sky.
Here is an example of what a NCFD does look like while flying a remote control airplane.
The ground area is usually darker and fairly meaningless in terms of orientation feedback to the brain. As long as the horizon is available, our brain can analyze a fast moving object very fast. Additionally it is usually darker, which is perfect to display LCD generated information that cannot be too bright. The display being very small and less than 1 inch away from the eye, very bright information is not possible.
Do a small experiment: Place yourself close enough to the screen so that you see most of the picture above. Stare at the plane so that it is on your fixation point. Now concentrate on your peripheral vision. How much information do you see on the NCFD?
We conducted a long field trial with different devices like the Google glass and Recon products. What we found out is that see through displays were not suitable for RC pilots because of the loss of resolution incurred while looking through the prism. The best results we had were with the simple and cheaper Recon instruments.
We developed an app for the Recon Jet display and are now offering this device as the World's first near eye display for UAV and RC pilots.