It is now that epoch of the naval history when technological headway is springing forth not just in the form of Satellite guided missiles, super stealth submarines or radars based on heat signatures.
But it’s something no Navy SEAL from the last century or the one before it, would have imagined it to be a part of the reality.
The US Navy recently teased the world with a prototype of what could change the course (both metaphorically and literally) of US Navy deep sea divers, for the better.
The person leading from the front to make this visionary product a reality, is the Underwater Systems Development Project Engineer – Mr. Dennis Gallagher. Gallagher along with his team have collaborated with over 20 personnel from the diving community to undertake a comprehensive study and test the effectiveness of the DAVD helmet in an actual underwater environment.
It is being called DAVD, short for Diver Augmented Vision Display, with a transparent HUD (Head up display) which of course, provides a see-through display for the diver donning the helmet.
WHAT THE NAVY UNDERWATER HELMET WAS BUILT FOR
Now, a typical US Navy diver’s routine can be described as follows : Attend the classes before diving, where they will be briefed on the entire diving scenario that they will be engaged in, next.
The Chief of Naval Staff would touch upon topics like what the target is, the estimated coordinates of the target to approach or recover, how long it would take for the diver to arrive at the mission’s site.
All of this is based on facts and previous experiences. The numbers aren’t solid. And so, a big part of the job relies on the diver and his ability to observe and improvise accordingly, while under-water.
But, Mr. Dennis Gallagher’s new innovation fixes just about all of these issues.
The DAVD helmet essentially creates augmented reality. The reason being, the naked human eye cannot visually comprehend the turbid waters, obviously. So, there’s a need to simplify this.
Whatever appears before the divers’ eyes, would be augmented with new dynamic information in the form of images, diagrams and videos, even.
This is very much unlike virtual reality where an entirely artificial environment is used. Augmented reality improvises on the available / visible information, by contributing to it with an enhanced display.
Moreover, the DAVD display sits nice and easy, perfectly fixed into the helmet, providing the diver an experience similar to that of a first-person video game. The DAVD display along with its features can be turned ON or OFF according to convenience.
WHY DAVD HELMET BEARS A RESEMBLANCE TO THAT OF IRON MAN’S
Now, there are more than one Iron Man tales that can be cited to give you a hint of why DAVD helmet isn’t any less sophisticated.
But, one particular scene from Iron Man 3 wherein Tony Stark’s Mansion on the coast of Malibu gets ravaged by several missiles causing Iron Man to drown deep into the waters due to flight mode failure.
Soon as he hits the water, J.A.R.V.I.S, Iron Man’s AI kicks in, to his rescue and briefs him with all the information for an escape route.
WHY DAVD AUGMENTED REALITY IS COOL
Augmented Reality has been extensively used in smartphone applications for creating GPS ( Global positioning system ).
So, you see where this is going. DAVD’s augmented reality gives the diver a topside view of his location and also that of the dive site on his display screen.
So, it could be used like a radar and a more definitive way to swim over to the target’s location without going lost.
The DAVD HUD is also reported to be able transmit text messages under water.
While the initial target consumers of this product are clearly the Navy Divers, Gallagher hopes to broaden the consumer-base by reaching out to Underwater Constructors, Ship Husbandry and eventually the Lifeguards and Salvage First-Responders.
The prototype will be up for simulation testing in October while on-field testing will take place later next year.