This is the BAE Striker II Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD). It is - put simply - the world's most advanced helmet.
The idea? To take pilots out of reality, into an augmented virtual world, and turn them into super humans.
Combining augmented and virtual-reality, it lets the wearer see both at once -- essentially creating a better-than-reality view of the aerial battlefield.
You might have heard this sort of thing before. Thing is, this isn't the future. It's real. We've worn it, and it really is as cool as it sounds...
How does it work?
Whilst traditional HUDs are static, placed on screens inside the cockpit or inside the glass of a helmet, the Striker II is different.
It essentially creates a virtual space around the pilot, and places information within that space, like lots of virtual screens. The pilot can look 'around' that space and glance at information as needed, without having it in front of their eyes at all times.
This relies on accurate head-tracking, which here works by having tiny infrared points dotted all over the helmet. In conjunction with a camera in the cockpit the helmet can see exactly what you're looking at down to pinpoint accuracy.
The image is bounced off the inside of the visor directly into the back of the eye, the brain then creates the composite image.
What this means is that there's no refocusing, as far as you're head is concerned the HUD and real life are one and the same.
What can I see?
Put the helmet on for the first time and it's honestly like stepping forward in time, imagine what Tony Stark sees when he's in the Iron Man suit and you're not far off.
The helmet is patched into the entire battle network so the pilot can see live feeds from missile cams, drones and even satellite imagery, all appearing picture-in-picture on the bottom left hand side of your vision.
One of the most impressive features however has to be the 'Cyclops' night vision camera.
Until now, pilots have had to wear bulky night vision goggles which attach to the helmet. On average they weigh about the same as a bag of sugar. Now imagine pulling 5Gs with a bag of sugar attached to your head. Take it from us, pilots don't enjoy it.
Goggles also present another unique problem; because they're essentially a pair of binoculars your vision is massively impaired, you have to look below them to see the controls and when you do look through them they'll often suffer from imaging problems, like lens flare and the 'halo' effect where random bright spots will ruin the surrounding landscape.
Striker II is a considerable step forward. The goggles are gone, instead a single state-of-the-art night vision camera is embedded within the helmet just above the eyes. Switch it on and the helmet's display will overlay the entire world around you in night vision.
The only way to describe it is that it feels like a filter is put over your eyes, which just so happens to let you see in the dark. Because the helmet is see-through it blends your own eyesight with that of the camera, creating a 'hybrid' vision.
BAE has confirmed that it needn't stop there either, Striker II can overly pretty much anything giving a pilot 'superhuman' levels of vision.
When will it fly?
Striker II is ready, it has passed all the certification required which incredibly means that despite weighing less than your average go-karting helmet it can protect you during an ejection at 600 knots.
BAE will start actual flight tests later this year and have already integrated it into the Eurofighter Typhoon, the UK's most advanced fighter plane ever made.
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