Navy Experiments With Smart Glass Technology for Deep Sea Divers

Deep sea divers in the Navy may soon be seeing the underwater world in a whole new light, thanks to the help of smart glass technology.

Dennis Gallagher, a Navy engineer specializing in underwater systems development and special optics, has been spearheading a project over the last several years to develop smart glasses that are wearable right inside a diver’s helmet. The Divers Augmented Vision Display, or DAVD, could deliver divers mission information, instructions, maps, and more while they’re deep under the water’s surface.

“Unlike recreational diving, where you’re in the Bahamas [and] it’s crystal clear and it’s beautiful, military diving is almost [always] dark, pitch-black water,” Gallagher explained. “You’re working in diving in salvage, ship husbandry — very dangerous, difficult environments. “So you can’t see life-support information, critical sensor data that you need. Your gauges are almost useless down there, because you cannot see them in front of your face.”

The glasses will provide a postage-stamp-sized display of information right in front of the diver’s eyes, capable of being controlled or turned on and off by voice commands. The weight of modern glass is generally 70% to 74% fused quartz, and every ounce counts in deep sea diving.

Gallagher and his team have been able to manufacture prototypes for the smart glasses quickly and efficiently thanks to 3D printing technology at their base in Panama City, Florida.

“This is a need that has existed within the diving community really ever since the beginning of diving,” Gallagher said. So far, the technology has been met with much enthusiasm by the Navy, though it could well have applications in other commercial and practical fields.

“There’s nothing better than the diver coming out of the water, giving you those two thumbs up and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, how quickly can we get this?'” Gallagher said.

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