The US Navy just put a futuristic HUD in a diving helmet

Project engineers say it's like "an 'Iron man' movie"

Augmented reality (technology that uses screen-embedded eyewear to overlay the real world with information, images and more) isn't quite ready for mainstream consumers -- but it's almost ready for the diving community. The US Navy says it's developing a high-resolution, heads-up display embedded in a diving helmet. It's called The Divers Augmented Reality Display, or DAVD for short.

The project is still in the early stages, but the potential of DAVD is fairly promising. A heads-up display with real-time data could be a big boon for underwater missions, offering divers sonar data, photographs of what they might be looking for, briefing data, text messages and more. Project leader Dennis Gallagher likens it to Tony Stark's augmented display from the Iron Man films. "You have everything you visually need right there within the helmet," he says.

The DAVD helmet is a little more than Google Glass underwater, though. The rig uses two transparent displays to create a stereoscopic augmented heads-up display, which makes it possible for the overlay to simulate depth perception. And perception, it turns out, is key: divers often find themselves in low-visibility situations. DAVD could potentially overlay muddy waters with a real-time map created by miniaturized high-resolution sonar. Those sensors, like DAVD itself, are still in development -- but the combination of the two could be a game changer for divers in murky water.

The prototype is about to move on to phase two, which will put it to use in real underwater test scenarios. In other words, it'll be awhile before a consumer version of this is available to the public -- but for divers who want more information underwater, it may be worth the wait.