A research and engineering company is developing virtual reality technology in Raleigh that is aimed at keeping military service members safer on the battlefield.
Applied Research Associates, headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has developed augmented reality technology that allows the user to see the real world and a virtual world at the same time.
Developed at its Raleigh division, ARC4 software integrates seamlessly with any heads-up display, allowing users to "view digital information overlaid on your real world environment," explained ARA Senior Scientist Dave Roberts.
Special glass opens the door for soldiers to a virtual command center, allowing them to see icons as they move around that tracks their fellow soldiers.
"Even if he were behind a hill or behind a building, I would still see an icon and know he is over there," Roberts said.
With a switch on the helmet, soldiers can also send messages and warnings to the team.
The idea, Roberts said is the make navigating the field easier and safer by keeping the soldier's head up instead of looking down at a smartphone.
"If you are part of a team, you can coordinate actions between that team very well because you know where everyone is," Roberts said. "And you can mark up things in your environment and send that information to others in the team who may not be in your view but can see what you see."
The ARC4 could also be a life-saver in everyday emergency situations for police and fire fighters by allowing them to communicate virtually during rescue operations.
ARA says a couple years down the road, the ARC4 could even be a game changer for social media.
"You will have sensors embedded in the sunglasses," Roberts explained. "Instead of having an iPhone attached to you, it can be done right in the sunglasses."
But unlike Google Glass, where the user looks up to view a micro monitor, Roberts said users will look out though future ARC4 sunglasses.
"Overlaying this digital information right on your primary view" to send messages and points of interest to friends and family, Roberts explained..
ARA said it is in talks with the military and hopes the technology will be in place in the next year or so. ARC4 sunglasses could be available to consumers in the next 3 to 4 years.