While Google’s anticipated HUD glasses may appeal to more pedestrian tastes, NASA has developed a similar type of head-gear with the nobler ambitions of safely steering pilots through difficult flying conditions. Essentially, the heads-up display for NASA’s glasses will overlay information onto a lens in front of the pilot’s eye so as to create an “augmented reality” that will enable them to navigate airplanes through dangerously foggy areas.
Given how most airline disasters happen during the take-off or the landing, the importance of helping pilots see through unnavigable conditions cannot be appreciated enough. Further impacting a pilot’s ability to get a plane safely on the tarmac is an unfamiliarity with the airport. Glasses like the kind NASA has built could help pilots
“If pilots are not familiar with the airport, they have to stop and pull out maps,” said Trey Arthur, an electronics engineer at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia, told Jeremy Hsu with InnovationNewsDaily.
Honestly, the idea of pilots having to mess around with anything other than flying a plane, to an unfamiliar runway no less, is more than a little frightening so I for one am thankful that NASA has taken the initiative to give pilots a hand. Or a third eye, as it were.
As you’d expect with a HUD-style design, the glasses will project information like airspeed, altitutde, and orientation onto a lens before the pilot’s eye, Not only does this help keep the pilot’s attention on what’s going on outside of the plane (like when Earth gets a little too close too fast), but frees them up from the task of fumbling around with maps in order to figure out what’s ahead of them.
The military has had similar technology with helmet-mounted displays, but that design isn’t exactly practical for commercial uses. As Arthur explained to Hsu, those military helmet displays used to weigh around ten pounds whereas the NASA glasses, which became available on March 5, weight about one-fourth of a pound.
So the next time you’re flying and you hit a patch of pants-soiling turbulence and you start freaking out because you can’t see anything outside of your window seat, recline back into your seat (if you’ve room) and remember that your pilot has some pretty rad technology up in the cabin to help land the plane safely.