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#Future Tech

Augmented reality tech could mean super sight for surgeons, firefighters, others

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Though augmented reality is seemingly a space that is hogged by gaming companies, it holds a lot more potential and could even change how professionals deal with their day-to-day issues or even complex issues such as problems faced by a surgeon during a surgery.

The Royal Society’s summer science exhibition will see introduction of a new optic that can overlay high resolution, 3D full colour images and video onto a person’s view of the outside world. In other words, the idea is that using optics, holographic projections can be overlaid on the real world using augmented reality headsets.

This will enable people to gain more insight onto the thing they are dealing with. Say for example, surgeon wants a second opinion about the operation he’s doing, from a colleague across the Atlantic. With the new optic to be showcased at the exhibition, the surgeon could receive guidance in real time, without looking away using an augmented reality headset.

The project is a result of the collaboration between National Physical Laboratory and Colour Holographic.

Simon Hall, who is the lead scientist in adaptive optics at the National Physical Laboratory explains that the headset is very lightweight and is effectively a small transparent slide capable of displaying information in the wearer’s field of vision.

“We have developed a revolutionary optic, which uses volume holograms to bend light so that we can produce an augmented reality display and its in perfect focus with incredible resolution and in full colour.”

According to Hall, the revolutionary optical component consists of a waveguide and two volume holograms. The entire headset consists of a piece of glass that has to be worn over the eye; one volume hologram that bends the red, green and blue components of the light 90 degrees so they totally internally reflect inside the glass, travels over your eye; and then another volume hologram bends the light again so that your eye can see it and the image appears at 3-4 meters currently – at a comfortable distance.

“The initial uses would be in specialist areas for example a firefighter might be going into a smoke filled room and he might have an infrared camera on the side of his head that overlays the infrared image of the rooms so that the fireman can see the casulties or the exits”, Halls adds.

“We are interested in spectral data so that we can ensure good colour rendition; angular data so that we can look at the field of view; waveguide properties so that we can ensure we are not getting any abbarations in the image. We are also interested in making sure its stable with respect to the environment, humidity, temperature, etc.” Hall says further.