A project at NASA Langley Research Center has created augmented reality glasses that can deliver critical information -- beyond airspeed, altitude, and attitude data -- to a pilot's eye, at all times, Innovation Daily reported Monday. Different from a fixed panel or even heads-up display, the head-worn display tracks the pilot's head movements. That feature will allow the unit to provide details like runways towers and taxiways where they would appear within the pilot's field of view, regardless of head movements, and whether or not they are obscured in natural vision by fog or darkness. When mated to digital NextGen routes, the system could paint a virtual runway centerline and also project paths to create a visual pathway instead of taxi instructions.
The glasses don't yet have a sunglasses-like form factor, but are considerably smaller than the Rockwell Collins helmet display that shares their lineage. The head tracker feature is custom-built by a company called Intersense. It combines gyroscopes with a camera. The camera detects the location of fixed targets within the cockpit and along with the gyroscopes translates the information into head movements that orient relevant display information. Together, the technology presents a pilot with situational awareness and flight data cues while keeping his or her eyes "outside." The agency has patented the technology and is offering the technology for commercialization.