Imagine being on a dive and seeing a real-time topside view of your dive-site, text messages, diagrams, photographs and even augmented-reality videos, all displayed inside your full-face mask or diving helmet.
More than you might want, perhaps, but the US Navy has just revealed its latest advances in HUD (Head-Up Display) diving technology – and they may point the way to what all scuba-divers will be able to see in the future.
The Divers Augmented Vision Display (DAVD), a high-resolution, see-through HUD embedded directly inside a diving helmet, has been developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre based in Panama City.
The system places the data before the diver’s eyes with the look and feel of a point-of-view video-game display. By expanding “situational awareness” and increasing accuracy when navigating towards a target such as a ship, downed aircraft or other object of interest, it is designed to make Navy divers more effective and secure.
Instead of having to rely on pre-dive briefings, the DAVD can determine on the move what the divers are looking for, how items should look and where they might be located. Divers can turn the display on and off, and move it around.
“By building this HUD directly inside the dive helmet instead of attaching a display on the outside, it can provide a capability similar to something from an Ironman movie,” said Underwater Systems Development Project Engineer Dennis Gallagher. “You have everything you visually need right there within the helmet.”
The DAVD is part of a 14-year US Navy strategy to develop state-of-the-art diving equipment. Also under development are miniaturised sonar and enhanced underwater video systems to enable divers to “see” in higher resolution up close – even in near-zero visibility. These could also feed directly into the DAVD.
The team is now designing components to include in both helmets and full-face masks, with testing to begin in October and to carry on through next year.
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