Retinal Projection Shows Promise
Forget about your instrument scan, how about a device that scans your instruments directly onto your retina? Microvision has sold the first of its Nomad retinal laser-projection systems in the civilian market (to Honda, to help mechanics fix cars faster) and it's likely only a matter of time before they end up in more cockpits (having previously been on display at Oshkosh AirVenture). The system offers many of the features of a heads-up display but instead of projecting information on a screen, a scanning laser actually puts the pictures and text right into your eye. Images from a computer or other visible source (like a primary flight display or multi-function display?) are processed into an image fed through a monocle and the result is superimposed over the regular field of vision. The system has already been tested on pilots and is also being used by the Army's Stryker Brigade in Iraq. In the cockpit tests, done three years ago, pilots wearing the system were able to spend most of their time watching for other traffic instead of scanning instruments because all the aircraft systems were displayed in front of them. Microvision is also working on systems for use by surgeons, who could display patients' vital signs while they concentrate on the operation.