MIT Built An AR Headset That Gives You X-Ray Vision

Follow virtual footprints toward lost items with the X-AR.

Researchers based out of the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on an augmented reality (AR) headset that uses holograms to guide users toward hidden objects. The device can even verify whether or not the user has picked up the specific object they are looking for using a combination of wireless signals and computer vision technology.

The X-AR headset features an AR-conformal wide-band antenna with Radio Frequency (RF) sensing capabilities. This flexible antenna works in conjunction with the headset’s cameras to run an AR-Based SAR localization algorithm capable of identifying RF-tagged objects, even through specific materials like cardboard boxes and plastic bins.

Here’s how it works: data captured by the headset’s sensors are used to build a 3D representation of the user’s environment. The antenna then locates the position of the lost object within the environment with an accuracy of less than a foot and displays a sphere-like hologram over the real world. Users then follow a set of virtual footprints guiding them toward the object.

As previously mentioned, the X-AR is capable of verifying what object the user is holding with over 95% accuracy. Upon putting on the headset, users are presented with a selection of RFID-tagged objects to choose from. Once the object has been located, the headset checks to make sure its tag is sending the correct RF signals, confirming you’ve located the correct object.

Credit: Signal Kinetics

“Our whole goal with this project was to build an augmented reality system that allows you to see things that are invisible — things that are in boxes or around corners — and in doing so, it can guide you toward them and truly allow you to see the physical world in ways that were not possible before,” said Fadel Adib, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and senior author of the paper on the X-AR headset.

Moving forward, the team plans on experimenting with various other enhancements. This includes WiFi, mmWave technology, terahertz waves, and an improved antenna with a range greater than 3 meters. The team even teased support for multiple, coordinated headsets.

Credit: Signal Kinetics

“Because there isn’t anything like this today, we had to figure out how to build a completely new type of system from beginning to end,” added Adib. “In reality, what we’ve come up with is a framework. There are many technical contributions, but it is also a blueprint for how you would design an AR headset with X-ray vision in the future.”

For more information check out the research team’s full paper here.

Feature Image Credit: Courtesy of the researchers. Edited by MIT News

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