When driving a car, it’s easy to assess your surroundings–the road is visible, the other vehicles on the road are visible, the bumps are (usually) visible. Flying a plane is a little different. All of the information is there, whether on an iPad, a control panel, or air traffic control, but it’s not actually visible in the sky. Pilots know if other planes are below or above them, but they often can’t see those planes.
The startup Aero Glass now claims to be the first company to bring augmented reality to pilots. While military pilots wear augmented reality heads-up displays, these are extremely expensive and aren’t really suitable for general aviation.
And then there’s this.
Aero Glass’s technology is made for Epson’s Moverio BT-200 smart glasses–a Google Glass-like set of glasses that differs largely in its display design (Google Glass has a display above the right eye, Moverio has a display across both eyes). As you can see in the demo, it can provide an array of information to pilots, including traffic, location of nearby aircraft cities and regions, information about restricted airspace, and the route to a destination, among other things.
“Instead of looking at instruments and doing lots of mental calculations, basically you’re looking outside and you see all these things overlaid on reality,” says Akos Maroy, founder of Aero Glass. “You can select how much information you want overlaid on reality.”
The whole package costs under $1,000. There are currently 200 pilots testing the system, but don’t expect to see your next United Airlines captain wearing it in the cockpit. “It’s mostly early adopters, especially experimental pilots keen on looking into the future,” says Maroy.
Commercial aviation would take a longer time to adopt this kind of technology. In the meantime, Aero Glass is looking at other applications in defense, drone piloting, and gaming.