We have been working in the field of Augmented Reality (AR) for over 70 years, since the dynamic targeting reticule on the Spitfire and the more advanced display on the Buccaneer strike aircraft. Head-up and head-mounted displays that present data directly in the user’s line of sight have been used in military aircraft applications for many years, culminating in our world-leading Striker®II helmet display.
More recently, we have been developing the latent technologies involved to deliver smaller form factor AR in glasses that might be worn anywhere from the bridge of a ship, a manufacturing centre, to a vehicle turret or even inside a tank. Anywhere, in fact, where a view of the real world can be augmented with additional data to increase situational awareness and focus.
The possibilities for AR glasses are almost limitless. Across the military, security, safety and civil construction and maintenance industries, the opportunity to augment the real-world view with useful data is enormous.
Jordan Jenkins, Project Manager, AR Glasses, BAE Systems
Specifically, we have been enhancing our patented waveguide displays and exploring opportunities to exploit new forms of display technologies from adjacent industries. Waveguide involves a miniature structure which traps and projects an image within an eyepiece. We have now developed novel processes which significantly reduce manufacturing complexity. Concurrently, our investigations into new display technologies have identified a means to light individual pixels rather than the whole display, an approach originally from the television display industry.
“The possibilities for AR glasses are almost limitless. Across the military, security, safety and civil construction and maintenance industries, the opportunity to augment the real-world view with useful data is enormous.” Lewin Edwards, Project Manager, AR Glasses
Together, the ability to light individual pixels and the reduced complexity waveguide display technology, have led to reductions in the size, weight and power required to deliver our AR capability, enabling the smaller form factor. In other words, allowing us to move from helmet-worn AR to a pair of AR glasses. As well as military applications, there are also new capabilities in areas like manufacturing and maintenance, where technical data can be overlaid onto the built environment.
The first demonstrations of AR glasses took place throughout 2019. The form factor has since been developed further with new prototypes and further generations expected throughout 2020/2021.