If you're trundling through a battlefield, taking enemy fire and crossing rough terrain, it's for the best that your tank is a hulking shell of thick, protective metal. But in terms of spatial awareness, it can be disorientating, with few options to view the world outside the vehicle.
Currently, tank commanders rely on external camera systems feeding visuals to monitors inside the vehicle. However, a mixed reality, or augmented reality view could offer the best of both worlds - a view of the inner controls of the tank, and any obstacle that may exist beyond the safety of its metallic walls.
Circular Review System
It is, essentially, Microsoft's HoloLens simply fused with a protective headpiece.
Called the Circular Review System, it pieces together video feeds from outside the tank, and overlays them onto the HoloLens display. As that display is transparent, the wearer can get both a 360-degree view of the external battlefield without obscuring the controls needed to operate the machine.
Debuting at the Arms and Security show in Kiev, the Limpid Armor team has yet to field test the Circular Review System outside of a laboratory environment. But that hasn't stopped some intriguing parties expressing interest - the Ukraine military for example, still reeling from the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia, is said to be considering testing the headset.
It's a far cry from the top-level uses Microsoft has so far envisioned for HoloLens, which has been demoed to the public with everything from Minecraft to productivity apps. But augmented reality headsets are nothing new in military circles, with jet pilots in particular notorious for having impressive heads-up display technology built into their helmets.
- Hands on: Microsoft HoloLens review