Although currently some awesome products on the market that can achieve basic kneeboard+scratchpad operations, giving that Asobo has stated they will make some major improvements for the VR part in the future, I’d still like to see a VR kneeboard that allows us to accomplish basic kneeboard tasks being provided natively.
Ultimately, a desktop(background) window overlay system should be a “one size fits all” solution due to its versatility and infinite possibility, though it might not be something easier to be achieved. There are products like OVR Toolkit available for such functionality, but I think a native solution made with the collaboration with Microsft’s own WMR team might just better address the changing of focus issue when switching the focus between the overlaid window and the cockpit(“the sim world”) or at least make the interacting with the overlaid window more seamless.
All in all, the idea is, having something that does what a real kneeboard can do. (Though giving the digitalization nowadays, we may eventually need the functionalities that an EFB/EFB software(such as foreflight) can provide.) Well, what they can do/provide?:
Displaying materials: IFR charts, VFR sectional charts, any paper products. To achieve this, we need a file(pdf, jpg, txt…) display system that can be easily managed and navigated through in game.
Writing down: take notes on a blank page, of course, most kneeboard addons out there can do this; but also, have the ability to write down/draw ON the aforementioned materials! Sometimes pilots IRL would make some notes/marks on the charts during planning, preflight or in-flight; or they just need to write down something very quickly and that chart is just the one readily available; or they have to modify the marks on the VFR chart that previously made before the flight; or they need to fill the navigation log when they doing the navigation in an old-school fashion or training.
A possible solution could be: make the background image of the scratchpad page customizable by a jpg image, pdf file, excel sheet…or combine 1 and 2 all together: resizable windows in VR can display a file in the disk, and let the user drawing and erasing on it. Ideally, it should be able to display at least two of these windows at the same time(one usually has two knees:) ), and each window contains several pages that can be flipped.
Other than the functionality part, another important aspect is the interaction part. As mentioned before, it is good to have the transaction of the cursor between the VR sim world and the kneeboard window seamlessly without changing the focus: you can just move the cursor into the window to interact with its content or drawing and move out, and still be able to fly at the sometime. Moreover, drawing with a mouse could be painful, so it will be nice to have the tablet/pen·graphic·drawing tablet support, just like the VRK addon in the DCS world. VRK - a virtual reality enabled kneeboard with touch and ink support - Mods and Apps - ED Forums
The next good stuff that would be much appreciated is… a calculator! Be it a “Whiz Wheel” (flight computer like the mighty E6B, a digital flight computer, or just a regular number pad calculator, or both, it will be much needed for old-school flyers or a student pilot that like to take the advantage of the sim to practice more.
I hope these thoughts could be somewhat useful for Asobo to make the VR and the sim better and better, more and more real. Thank you very much!