Skip to main content

Articles in Category: June 2021

Cobra Simulation VR/XR Cobra Dome Tethering

Cobra Simulation VR/XR Cobra Dome Tethering

on Thursday, 01 July 2021. Posted in June 2021

Immersive Dome Displays/Virtual Reality and augmented reality (XR). 3 industry experts discuss VR tethering and the future of immersive training.

In a recnt article, Alexander Bradley, Managing Director,  addressed a question about how VR/XR could be seen as a competitor to immersive projection domes. “Depends on who you ask” he quoted. With a firm belief that they are complementary to immersive training he speaks with other industry leaders from both immersive dome and VR/XR backgrounds.

Alexander first sits down with industry veteran D’nardo Colucci, President and a founder of Elumenati. Enjoying a coffee together and discussing how time flies after a healthy 10-year partnership between our two companies, Alexander moves the conversation to VR/XR & domes.

Alexander Bradley (AB): Tell us what Elumenati is and does for any readers that might not be familiar?

D’nardo Colucci (DC): Elumenati was established in 2003 and creates immersive projection environments. Our turnkey GeoDome product family include immersive dome theatres, panoramas, portals and globes of all sizes.

AB: Cobra believes there is a market for a dual use set up, tell us what you think about combining a Cobra dome projection screen with a XR headset?

DC: We too believe this is an effective combination. Our pet term is "VR Tether" which is where we tether the dome camera to the VR camera but with different behaviours.”

Alexander shares a short video showing an example of its implementation of the concept. A concept made possible through Cobra’s partnership with Elumenati. In this video the pilot's view is mirrored on a Cobra180 projection dome. The Varjo VR2 headset tracks the pilot's head and eye gaze.

DC: The video demonstrates a 1-2-1 mirrored view which can be great to see where a pilots focus or gaze is. However, there are many other benefits where a fixed wide FOV provides a more stable dome appropriate image option.”

AB: Where would you see a dual use configuration being used and for what? What benefits do you think it would bring to the training industry?

DC: Training is an excellent application for the dual use configuration. While the main trainee is in VR, the others in the group are able to critique their effort from the third person perspective.  I believe the combination of first person and third person training is very effective. 

AB: Cobra has been asked a lot in the press recently about VR/XR vs traditional dome screen configurations. Suggesting the two markets compete. Cobra believes they service different needs and both solutions should be embraced. What do you think? How do you see the industry in 5 years?

DC: Despite the effectiveness (and fun) of participating in massive multiplayer VR environments, VR and AR are (by definition) individual experiences.  Domed virtual environments provide a sort of Group VR where the experience is shared in a natural, human way.  Dome environments allow for eye contact which can be critical in communication.  Elumenati believes the two experiences complement each other and very rarely compete.

AB: Thank you, D’nardo, I always enjoy catching up and appreciate your input, 'till next time!

DC: Thanks, Alexander, until next time!


It was important to get a balanced view from a company focused on VR/XR. Alexander spent time with VR/XR industry expert Markus Heinonen, Vertical Lead, Simulation and Training EMEA at Varjo.

Varjo VR-2. Image credit: Varjo


Alexander Bradley (AB): Firstly, congratulations on the launch of Varjo Reality Cloud, another leap toward “Ready Player One”. Really impressive, we can’t wait to try out the tech.

Tell us what Varjo is and does for any readers that might not be familiar?

Markus Heinonen (MH): Thanks, Alexander, Varjo Reality Cloud has been received well. We cannot wait to get the technology into client’s hands and continue development. It’s been a busy few weeks.

Varjo develops Virtual and Mixed Reality headsets with the industry’s highest resolution for unmatched realism in training. Varjo headsets benefit from its “human-eye” resolution Bionic Display (over 70 ppd).

When training with Varjo devices, you’ll see the critical details near and far. Additionally, Varjo headsets provide mixed reality with an integrated high-resolution, low-latency (sub 20 ms) video pass-through video system.

AB: What are your biggest challenges when demoing your VR/XR products to clients?

MH: One of the challenges when demoing the products is to show bystanders what's happening inside the headset. Nothing beats the real VR experience, of course, but with a dome projection people can get closer to the same action.

AB: We shared our concept demonstration video with you and your team at Varjo. Tell us what you think about combining a Cobra dome projection screen with a Varjo XR headset?

MH: This is a great way to extend the action to other people around. It provides an additional experience for other people and a way to explain the training concept better.

AB: Where would you see a dual use configuration being used and for what? What benefits do you think it would bring to the training industry?

MH: The dual configuration could be very useful in trade shows and demo showrooms where you want to create the wow-effect and where there are often other people around and only one person can test the simulation at once. In trade shows it would attract more people to the stand and help company representatives to explain the concept more accurately for people that haven't yet had the chance to test the simulator, or for some reason doesn't want to put on the headset themselves.

AB: Cobra has been asked a lot in the press recently about VR/AR vs traditional dome screen configurations. Suggesting the two markets compete. Cobra believes they service different needs and both solutions should be embraced. What do you think? How do you see the industry in 5 years?

MH: We believe that VR/XR will continue to be adopted at accelerating pace in Training and Simulation industry. Virtual and Mixed reality aren't going to replace traditional simulators soon but provides a low-cost and transportable option that can be comparable or even better than traditional simulators.

We're already seen multiple of successful deployments where Virtual and Mixed Reality have been used to replace or supplement dome screen simulators. Varjo's headsets also provide additional capabilities such as eye-tracking for human performance assessment. 

VR/XR can also increase the value of existing part-task simulators through the provision of full field of view, immersive visuals using mixed reality technology. Ultimately training organizations must look at their training objectives and choose the right technology based on that. 

AB: Markus it has been great chatting with you, I look forward to continuing our work together over the coming months.

MH: Thanks, Alexander, as do we, excited to be working with you too.

Finally, we asked our very own Chief Technical Officer Professor Kenny Mitchell what his thoughts are on the subject.

Alexander Bradley (AB): Tell us about your role and what your aims are for Cobra for any readers that might not be familiar?

Kenny Mitchell (KM): Its been an honour to join the board at Cobra since over a year now. We’re aiming to build upon our uniquely effective single channel dome displays with further software technologies to diversify and broaden our business with new products in training and simulation and beyond.

AB: What are your biggest challenges when demoing your VR/XR technology to audiences?

KM: XR technology can actually be quite easily demonstrated with fantastic imagery to impress tech savvy clients and those new to immersive content alike. However, a big challenge is how to convey the realism of the individual’s experience and for customers to trust the quality of that experience. When coupled with our dome displays, guests and onlookers can observe and survey all the content with immediacy and faithful accuracy.

AB: Tell us what you think about combining a Cobra dome projection screen with a Varjo XR headset?

KM: It’s a terrific benefit for an instructor who provide guidance to trainees wearing these awesome headsets with the context awareness of both a view of what the trainee is seeing directly and whether the trainee is moving and reacting appropriately to the mission plan.

AB: Where would you see further dual use configurations being used and for what? What benefits do you think it would bring to other industries?

KM: Often folks experience XR in isolation even when they are with colleagues, watchers or friends in the same place. I imagine audience engagement events, for example at eSports venues would be excellent scenarios for video game playing gurus to compete in immersive games whilst the audience can share the views of all players on stage clearly on the projected domes. This would also be a sweet rig for video game influencers, where video can be streamed of the player directly in the context of the game, much more naturally without needing any compositing tools (those chroma key videos look a bit tired already).

AB: We’ve been asked a lot in the press recently about VR/AR vs traditional dome screen configurations. Suggesting the two markets compete. We believe they service different needs and both solutions should be embraced. Do you have more to comment on this? How do you see the industry in 5 years?

KM: I still think my prediction of XR becoming mainstream by 2030 is very much on track and it’s super impressive to see the leaps that headsets such as Varjo’s have made already. Dome displays will also become increasingly cost effective with broader and more widespread uses, and I love that we have a real advantage with Cobra’s enviable single channel dome designs.

Immersive headsets give a level of experience that is in some ways perhaps isolating, but also on the crest of presenting the most focused signals to your senses. There’s a trade-off there between the ease of movement wearing a display vs being surrounded by a dome display and in many cases, these serve quite different and complimentary needs of a fully featured training programme.

AB: Thanks, Kenny, we are thrilled to have such a visionary on our board.

KM: Always a pleasure, Alex.

Dome projection visuals by VTOL VR. Image credit: Cobra Simulation

We asked Alexander to summarise with his own thoughts, what he learned having spent time with D’nardo, Markus and Kenny;

AB: It is an interest debate and one I hear day in day out as the two technologies continue to innovate in ways not thought possible before. I love technology as whole so am excited about both, even more so knowing there are benefits of using both technologies in tandem.

The future of out of body experiences portrayed “Ready Player One” will become a reality in our lifetimes. In a world that is now looking toward the stars to expand our human footprint. It is immersive technologies that will support training and allow us to experience these alternate realities. It will also help retain the most basic and essential of human interactions/ emotion, “communication”.

A huge thanks to Markus at Varjo, D’nardo from Elumenati and Kenny for their thoughts.

“Cobra Will Lead the Way” in Dome Projection

“Cobra Will Lead the Way” in Dome Projection

on Tuesday, 15 June 2021. Posted in June 2021

Cobra Immersive Dome Projection success

Alexander Bradley, Managing Director, Cobra Simulation (Bathgate, Scotland), responds to five questions posed by Marty Kauchak, Halldale Media Group Editor.

MS&T: Tell us some of the technology breakthroughs and innovations Cobra Simulation is supporting and observing in the immersive dome projection market.

Alexander Bradley (AB): Cobra has always been an innovation-led business, taking existing technology, new ideas and packaging them in a unique format for consumption by its clients. Recognizing where the niche exists, then seeking to disrupt and fill the gap. Domes would have appeared to have followed a linear path, or have seen little innovation that has made headlines. But if you know where to look, the opposite is true. Collimated dome displays, negative- and dual-pressure domes, fabric domes, modular domes, roll-up domes, and the list goes on. Each trying to solve traditional technical problems in the training needs of clients. None quite nailing them all, due to physical, optical, or digital constraints.

Delivering content suitable for consumption on a dome is a complex task, and the traditional method of consumption via flat screens has been at odds with solving this problem. With a market that has had to be kicked, pulled, and prodded until recently to wake up and start dealing with the technical issues which enable wide-scale adoption of immersive production and content.

Cobra as a business launched its first targeted product in 2013, demonstrating to the market that it could solve the majority of these challenges in a small form factor, but with scalable potential. The Cobra150 was the first single-channel projection dome to see large-scale adoption in the simulation and training market, with the company delivering nearly 200 installations worldwide. Despite this slow but steady increase in demand, it has been a constant battle for the broader social acceptance of ‘immersive content.’

Until recently, and by recently, I mean the re-birth of consumer-led VR like Oculus (thanks, Palmer Luckey), there has been little appetite for the level of investment needed to break tradition. Finally, with the emergence of real VR/AR/XR adoption that, thankfully, is not ahead of its time anymore, the term “immersive” is now a household, socially accepted norm.

So what? Why is that important? As with any industry, with adoption comes investment, with investment comes innovation, and with innovation comes progress.

Cobra has compartmentalised its research and development into four core areas with a base set of criteria for each: the projection dome surface; optics; projectors; and software.

We have innovated and continue to innovate in these areas. Re-investing year-on-year the bulk of our profit to grow and expand our knowledge and capability. The latest addition to this being software. Which therein has always lain the problem – content production and delivery when an entire market is built around a 16:9 image with a limited field of view.

In the last 10 years we have delivered innovation in seamless dome production, portability, and affordable optics, using first surface mirror technology. We have worked closely with projector manufacturers to help prioritise their product arcs for better adoption and have driven single-channel content delivery adoption with game engine companies and application developers.

MS&T: These developments point to a pivot in this S&T industry sector. Comment on the returns on investment Cobra Simulation provides the training enterprise – for instance, encouraging the use of higher-fidelity flight training devices as opposed to investing in full-flight simulators, when appropriate; training system cost reduction; and others.

AB: One such pivot in the group of four that we are championing today is that of projector resolution and its impact in the dome projection sector.

Moore’s Law. Cobra realised that it would have success in this simulation market because it had the foresight to recognise the principle of ‘Moore’s Law’ and its application for the development of projector resolution. Resolution is doubling on projectors every 2-4 years, and at the same time the price to the user is falling – as a parallel, witness what has happened in the consumer television market. The drive is to increase the resolution to enable the viewer to be unable to distinguish pixels on a screen, thereby enhancing the visual authenticity of the images. The current target market resolution for domes is around 1.5 arcmins/pixel (‘Retina Display’ as dubbed by Apple). Our smallest Cobra150 display already delivers 2.5 arcmins/pixel as we have adopted three cycles of the Moore’s Law principle since 2012, being 720p > 1080p (HD) > 4K (UHD) resolutions. 2021 has seen the introduction of 8K. Consequently, we can fulfil market expectations on our smallest dome without the need for multiple projectors, a key unique selling proposition.

Cost Benefit. Our single-channel projection solutions have a substantially reduced cost throughout project cycles because we strip out the complexity and remove many of the technical problems associated with multi-projector installs. For example, these include edge blending, warp and blending multi-channel licencing, and the need for matched projector factory calibration. As each cycle of resolution is adopted, this enables the ability to project the same number of pixels with fewer projectors, leading to a significant market pivot to single-channel solutions.

Threat or Opportunity? Depends on who you ask. Our industry is changing, and it is for the better. Dare I mention ‘net zero targets?’ We find ourselves in a position today where circumstance has been driven by a training need, and manufacturers and integrators have quite rightly fulfilled that need. Doing what we do best, throwing more horsepower at the problem. To improve the fidelity, we must increase the resolution and our only choice until now was to increase the volume of projectors. Good for business, great for the user, bad for the pocket and the environment.

Our message is this: it can be good for business, great for the user, good for the pocket and kinder to the environment.

MS&T: Provide an overview of the expanding use cases for Cobra Simulation products within the military and adjacent high-risk training sectors – healthcare, civil aviation, others.

AB: I stated earlier that everything we have been developing is scalable, another key USP for potential stakeholders. In 2020 we launched the Cobra180, a new, scaled-up single-channel dome, largely enabled by the industry pivot in resolution. This was a big statement to the industry that innovation is enabling the scalable element of our product range. With further improvements in optics, we have not only increased the size of our new product but increased its FoV while retaining key dome resolution targets. This appeals to a much wider user case than before and is a key candidate for the next iteration of 16K projectors, bringing the Cobra180 into the retina display category.

Expanding use cases are presenting, with the continued adoption of our systems, into military markets across NATO, covering land, air, sea and now space. With recent deployments to the F35 program for hypoxia research and training, the Eurofighter program to enhance the fidelity of their flight trainers, and aircraft HUD development, this has helped to open new sectors in the evolving space industry. We expect to be deploying our first Cobra180 for use in space simulation training this fall. We’ll certainly share this development with MS&T!

Civil aviation presents one of the largest opportunities as it bounces back from Covid and, as we are about to see, a surge in electric short-flight vehicles. To take advantage of the growing greener energy flight programs, Cobra has become part of the COP26 initiative for sustainable aviation. Cobra is officially one the Scottish Government’s ‘Team Scotland’ champions, with a heavy focus on how we deliver more affordable immersive training to drive the adoption of greener sustainable flight.

MS&T: Those related developments will be of great interest to readers of our companion publication CAT. Share your insights on how the immersive dome projection sector will evolve and remain competitive, in particular with the maturation of headsets for immersive training, and other developments.

AB: It’s a great question because depending on who you ask you will get very different answers.

You would think that I would have a biased view on domes versus XR, after all domes provide a core revenue stream for the business. Interestingly, there has been what I call a swing adoption of VR/AR. That is where adoption of a new technology swings heavily in its favour, but then the honeymoon period wears off and enough people redress the balance as the technology’s flaws are exposed, swinging back toward the technology it was slated to replace. All while the existing technology continues to innovate to a better position. (Stereoscopic 3D was another great example.) I think we have completed the first swing and we are now swinging back in its favour as the second frenzy takes hold. This is driven by large investments in companies like Varjo, who have made huge inroads to address many of the technical flaws found with headsets.

I am beyond doubt that VR/AR (XR) is here to stay. I am also beyond doubt that there is most definitely a place for it in simulation training, and as an industry, we should embrace its benefits. There are, however, many cases where a headset is not conducive to the training need, with too many instances where it is being forced as the answer. So, the key to its swing becoming stable is how we apply it and for what need. Where it doesn’t fit, dome displays do. There’s plenty of ‘pie’ for everyone!

I see a market for both in the short- to medium-term, I certainly do not see a drop in inquiries for domes; in fact, we are experiencing the exact opposite.

However, the dome projection sector, I do believe, is maturing, and so must still evolve and adapt to this new young kid on the block. Cobra will lead the way and is working on new technology to deploy on larger single-channel systems as the swing returns for a second time.

MS&T: Highlight what MS&T readers will see from Cobra Simulation through early 2022.

AB: Cobra Simulation has an interesting roadmap built on our current R&D projects, which will see it continue to lead and grow market share in the production and deployment of cost-effective highly deployable dome projection solutions that use only a single channel. Readers can expect to see our full adoption of XR and its integration to our wider portfolio, offering our clients greater choice from a trusted brand. They can expect to see our early immersive software development launch to market, along with a few surprises on the way.

MS&T: Thank you. We look forward to meeting with the Cobra team at a live conference later this year.

AB: You are quite welcome, and we’ll certainly make time for a meeting.


Coventry University takes delivery of a Cobra180

Coventry University takes delivery of a Cobra180

on Tuesday, 15 June 2021. Posted in June 2021

Cobra180 Venom Immersive Interactive display delivered to Coventry University


 Coventry University starts rollout of Cobra180 domes to compliment their new flight simulation centre

Coventry University has taken delivery of a Cobra180 8K AV Pro which is now in service within the school of Mechanical, Aerospace and automotive engineering. The solution integrates our Cobra180 8K AV Pro immersive display system with the EDGE 6D motion simulator.

Pictured here is the set up. A Cobra180 dome display, on our custom X-series support stand. The 8K e-shift projector and optics delivering 180 degree by 80 degree field of view from our Cobra Pro Image Generator. Fully calibrated using our Cobra True Dimension warping software.

Due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the team were able to perform an installation on-site and in line with the company’s site acceptance testing (SAT) for the customer whilst adhering to the current COVID-19 government guidelines.