US Navy looks to head-up displays for combat divers
The US Navy has a new Head-Up Display (HUD) for combat divers that works even in zero-visibility conditions. Developed by James Fisher and Sons and the US Navy's Naval Surface Warfare Centre – Panama City Division, Shadow NAV is a visor projector that mounts on a standard diver's half-mask to provide hands-free underwater navigation capabilities.
If your experience of the sea is video documentaries or diving holidays in the Bahamas, it's easy to think that the underwater world is like a giant aquarium where you can see for miles. While that's true in some places, many others are dark, choked with silt and algae, and generally awful.
Combat divers more often than not have to work under these types of unpleasant, zero-visibility conditions, which can be so bad that wrist or swim board-mounted instruments become unreadable – even when they're self-illuminated or when lit with a torch. Because this information can include such literally vital data as depth and dive time for closed circuit oxygen rebreathers, this is much more than a simple inconvenience.
Shadow NAV is designed to help both improve the data flow to combat divers and reduce the equipment needed during a dive with a mask-mounted HUD display that is not affected by low visibility conditions.
Winner of a 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award by the Federal Laboratory Consortium, it uses an an adjustable micro-optical display module that can flipped up when not in use. It provides a continuous display of the compass heading, diver depth in feet or meters, the time in minutes and seconds, and remaining battery. In addition, it uses low-light characters to preserve the wearer's night vision.
"The Combat Diver may have a significant amount of essential equipment to carry while conducting missions, says Danny Gray, Products and Support Director at James Fisher and Sons. "Traditional kit such as the compass and depth gauges not only increases the amount of equipment required, but, more critically, they are of little, or no use in water with very limited visibility, even with auxiliary illumination. This puts the diver at too great a risk of injury or even fatality.
"To address these challenges for potentially dangerous underwater combat missions, the expert technical team S3D at the NSWC PCD worked to develop a small, low-cost, low-power enhanced navigation capability to significantly improve safety standards for military divers and give them the best possible chance of successfully completing their missions. In bringing this to market, JFD will be making this capability widely available to divers operating across the globe."
Source: James Fisher and Sons