Augmented Reality Goggles Make Marine Mechanics More Efficient

Jarheads work almost 50 percent faster wearing heads-up display goggles that replace technical manuals

New augmented reality goggles are helping Marine mechanics perform maintenance on vehicles in about half the usual time. The futuristic headgear displays precise instructions on top of real-world settings, and shows how to complete certain tasks, such as wiring up an ignition coil.

Similar augmented reality (AR) devices have already helped astronauts carry out repairs on the International Space Station, and could aid civilians tinkering with their BMWs in the home garage. But the new goggles developed by Columbia University researchers provide solid proof of how the devices can improve human performance.

A test with six Marine mechanics found that they performed up to 46 percent faster on making repairs to a light armored vehicle when using the AR goggles, according to Technology Review. The jarheads typically rely upon technical manuals displayed on laptops.

Besides the heads-up display, the AR system uses text instructions, floating labels, arrows and even 3-D models of tools needed for various tasks. An Android smartphone provides the wrist interface for cueing up new instructions.

We’re looking forward to seeing this and other AR devices seep into both military and civilian life in ever greater numbers. An MIT augmented reality device previously won one of PopSci’s Inventions Awards, showing the possibilities of interfacing online information with the real world. Some PopSci readers may also remember our July issue, which allowed people with webcams to play with virtual wind turbines popping off the magazine cover.

[via Technology Review]