DHS chooses Physical Optics to develop helmet-mounted microdisplay for first responders

TORRANCE, Calif., 5 Feb. 2012. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington needed expertise in helmet-mounted microdisplay technology to help them develop an embedded head-up display to increase personal situation awareness for emergency responders. They found their solution from Physical Optics Corp. in Torrance, Calif.

Officials of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) to Physical Optics for the Helmet Embedded Conformal Augmented Display (HECAD) program, which is based on a modular design that integrates miniature commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) microdisplays.

The contract calls for Physical Optics engineers to develop a prototype HECAD, as well as support electronics and embedded computing, for first responder situational awareness by selectively displaying potentially life-saving information and real-time video from imaging sensors.

The HECAD prototype will show real-time data from long-wave infrared (LWIR) cameras and sensors on a see-through head-up display that will not occlude the user's visual field-of-view, Physical Optics officials say. Engineers will work with the local emergency responders and commercial equipment manufacturers to create a next-generation helmet for first responders.

The HECAD program includes the Physical Optics see-through low-profile waveguide optics; lightweight wearable processing electronics; and sensors. In the first phase of the HECAD program, Physical Optics experts demonstrated see-through display technology, including LWIR sensor data in real time, for low-power augmented reality.

Physical Optics also developed support electronics, software, and end-user-driven symbology, as well as designed lightweight and compact mechanical packaging for advanced mockup and the in-mask, active-matrix display with full-motion video.

For more information contact Physical Optics online at www.poc.com, or the Department of Homeland Security at www.dhs.gov.

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