US scientists have developed a set of glasses that will enable a virtual world to be placed over the real one.
The glasses, developed by researchers at Columbia University, will enable firefighters, for example, to see sprinkler systems, electric cables and stored chemicals. They could also be used by police to integrate satellite or helicopter positioning of gunmen or criminals to find them faster.
The technology, created by Columbia's schools of computer science and journalism, is known as "augmented reality" and uses an amalgam of computing power and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, combined with a device that tracks the wearer's head movement.
Currently the system weighs 25 pounds and is carried in a backpack. Researchers are now aiming to get the system down to the size of a belt buckle.
In the future, US soldiers with augmented-reality viewers could see labels on buildings and streets and also active details, such as areas of sniper fire and locations of friendly forces.
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