The Thales Group, a major electronic systems company serving in the aerospace and worldwide security industries, has taken a particular interest in augmented reality. Engineers with Thales have been working on a new helmet mounted sight display for helicopter pilots.
The new helmet, dubbed the TopOwl, will be used to help pilots improve their aerial situational awareness and provided a number of other benefits during operations. Augmented reality is becoming popular in marketing, but the technology’s uses have been expanding beyond that realm into others that are more action-oriented.
The TopOwl may be one of the most advanced systems to make use of augmented reality technology thus far. The system will provide helicopter pilots and other crewmen a synthetic view of the world in real time, drawing upon integrated databases and the helicopters own GPS system to map out terrain. This will prove a significant boon to night-time operations, as the pilot will be able to see the environment as though it were awash in sunlight.
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Pilots will have to acclimatize themselves to the new augmented reality system, as it has a number of perceptual features that many will not be accustomed to upon first use.
Thales’ helicopters are currently being used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and so the new helmet mounted system will be shipped out to the forces when it is ready.