MIT Explores Cheap HUD Technology

New tech is similar to auto glass tinting.



A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is examining nanotechnology that could lead to inexpensive head-up displays (HUDs) for general aviation aircraft. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Office. A proof of concept prototype of the system was recently shown publicly.

Using nanotechnology, the concept system targets low cost and simplicity of manufacture in an end product that is meant to incorporate wide viewing angles. Current HUD technology is limited by the viewing angle. The MIT project embeds nanoparticles in a thin plastic coating, similar to that used for tinting car windows. The particles scatter the light in specific wavelengths, similar to the way smoke particles reflect a laser beam passing through them.

The MIT team acknowledges that much work remains, but the long-term possibilities have potential in aviation and automotive applications. If, in fact, the potential for automotive sales comes to fruition, the economies of scale could be a boon for general aviation, much in the same way that steering and brake sensors led to low-cost inertial sensors for avionics.

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