Osterhout Design Group (ODG) in collaboration with FedEx has launched the prototype of a new oxygen mask with an augmented reality heads-up display (HUD) to help FedEx pilots navigate during emergencies. At the 2018 Augmented World Expo, ODG demonstrated a working model of the mask called SAVED (Smoke Assured Vision Enhanced Display), which is designed for commercial airline pilots.
ODG’s VP of Headworn products Nima Shams will be speaking about the evolution of mobile and creating the next computing platform at the WT | Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco on July 11-12.
About eight times a month, an airplane faces hazardous conditions when its cockpit gets filled with smoke or fume caused by in-flight fire, says Nate Klatt, Senior Director, ODG. This makes it very difficult for the pilots to navigate and as a result they’re forced to make an emergency landing if the smoke isn’t quickly cleared, he said.
ODG decided to build this mask after it was approached by FedEx to make a wearable that would allow pilots to make a safe landing should such a situation arise.
“While in flight, clear vision is everything, and ODG’s award-winning head-worn technology is able to create an aircraft display system that will be a lifesaving tool for FedEx and, ultimately, the entire aviation industry,” said ODG CEO Ralph Osterhout. “SAVED is an excellent example of the power and potential for smartglasses to make real impact to our lives and continues ODG’s unparalleled pace of innovation in the space.”
While it looks like a standard oxygen mask, the HUD display inside shows a view from the nose of the plane. SAVED connects to the plane’s HUD computer and to external cameras attached to the plane’s outside, allowing the pilot to see the flight controls and upcoming terrain or the runway. As the device is also an oxygen mask, it can solve any types of cockpit emergencies quickly and efficiently. It builds on ODG’s current model of smartglasses – R7 – which is designed for industrial use.
Klatt said getting FAA approval for the mask was tricky as the agency’s regulations are an unchartered territory for AR. But he said that the company is almost done with the process, and that SAVED should be a fully-fledged, usable AR mask very soon.
And although it’s been designed for FedEx use first, ODG plans to bring its technology to civil and commercial aircraft manufacturers and the military as well.
“FedEx is pleased to work with ODG on this important innovation in pilot safety technology,” said Jim Bowman, senior VP of flight operations for FedEx Express. “We look forward to continued development of this product and believe it has the potential to enhance pilot safety in emergency situations.”