The US Navy is building on working a helmet for divers that has augmented reality, with functionalities that broadly mimic Tony Stark’s (or rather that of Iron Man) in Marvel movies.

Underwater systems development project engineer Dennis Gallagher and his team at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division are working on DAVD or the Divers Augmented Vision Display. DAVD is a high-resolution, see-through head-up display (HUD) embedded directly inside of a diving helmet.

This augmented display 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, according to a statement by the Navy.

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.

Divers have the ability to turn the HUD on and off, and direct topside to reposition display data in different locations on the HUD. “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,” says Mr. Gallagher.

The DAVD HUD system can be used for various diving missions, including ship husbandry, underwater construction, and salvage operations, as well as by first responders and the commercial diving community.

As part of its Strategic Plan for 2011-2025 to identify, exploit, and develop technology to advance the state-of-the-art in diving equipment, Naval Sea Systems Command (00C3) is 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.

The Navy team is now working on phase two, where components are being designed to include both helmet systems and full face masks. Divers are scheduled to conduct in-water simulation testing in October. Phase three is set to begin in fiscal year 2017 to harden the system for expanded field testing with various dive commands.

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