Navy lab's GunnAR Helmet - Bringing rapid tech transition to the Fleet / by Scott A.

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- It may look like a prop from a Star Wars movie, but this helmet can potentially save lives on the battlefield.

Scientists from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific's (SSC Pacific) Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) Lab were joined, Dec. 13, by members of industry and representatives from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for a demonstration of the winning idea from ONR's March 2016 Innovation Jam, which featured active duty Sailors pitching their technological solutions to fleet challenges.

Lt. Robert McClenning's winning Unified Gunnery System concept is an augmented reality (AR) helmet that would fuse information from a ship's gunnery liaison officer and weapon system into an easy-to-interpret visual format for the gunner manning a naval gun system.

McClenning, a training officer aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) who claimed the top spot and $100,000 in prototyping funds for his idea, said the way the information-sharing and authorization to fire is currently done, is via decades-old radios and sound-powered phones that are hard to hear over the din of machine guns and through the required ear protection.

His innovative concept, GunnAR, is an AR overlay placed onto helmets manufactured by industry partner, DAQRI, an AR technology company based in Los Angeles, California. SSC Pacific and DAQRI have entered into a collaborative research and development agreement to further explore and develop this technology.

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What is the potential payoff for the Navy with this technology? According to McClenning, GunnAR provides greater situational awareness for the gunner wearing the helmet, and a quicker response time to ward off potential threats.