U.S. Navy Develops 'Iron Man' Heads-Up Display for Diving Helmets
A new heads-up display (HUD) developed by the U.S. Navy will allow divers to have access to real-time operational data. The Divers Augmented Vision Display (DAVD), a high-resolution, see-through HUD, can be embedded directly inside a diving helmet.
“This unique system enables divers to have real-time visual display of everything from sector sonar (real-time topside view of the diver's location and dive site), text messages, diagrams, photographs and even augmented reality videos,” the Navy said in a statement.
Iron Man Comes To Life
The ability to access real-time operational data will enable Navy divers to be more effective and safe in their missions, providing expanded situational awareness and increased accuracy in navigating to a target such as a ship, downed aircraft, or other objects of interest, according to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division.
“Instead of having to rely on pre-dive briefings alone to determine what they are looking for, how specific items should appear and where they may be located, the DAVD system places the information right before divers' eyes with a look and feel comparable to a point-of-view video game display,” the Navy said.
Dennis Gallagher, an Underwater Systems Development Project Engineer with the Navy, described the system as similar to the display Tony Stark is shown using in the “Iron Man” movies, with users able to reposition information on the display wherever they need it.
The Navy said it plans to use the technology for applications involving underwater construction and salvage operations, but noted that it would also be useful for first responders or commercial divers.
Expanded Tests Coming
The Navy's design team is now working on a second version of the technology that will include components being developed for helmet systems as well as entire facemasks. In-water simulations are expected to begin in October, while expanded tests of the technology in the field are planned for next year, according to the Navy.
The Navy said it is also in the process of developing enhanced sensors, such as miniaturized high resolution sonar and enhanced underwater video systems, to enable divers to "see" in higher resolution up close, even when water visibility is near zero. These enhanced underwater vision systems would be fed directly into the DAVD HUD.
News of the new display technology follows a recent upswing in augmented reality systems, in which a display overlays visual information on a real-world image. Microsoft has been pushing its own version of HUD technology with the HoloLens platform. The company recently announced that it has developed test versions of several of its productivity applications designed specifically to take advantage of these sorts of HUD systems.
Image Credit: U.S. Navy Photo by Richard Manley. Pictured above: Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division lead engineer/senior electrical engineer William Hughes III demonstrates the Divers Augmented Vision Display during a lab simulation.