What is a Head Mounted Display?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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Sometimes referred to as a helmet mounted display, the HMD or head mounted display is a device that is worn on the head. One of the features of a head mounted display is the presence of two small optic screens that rest in front of the eyes. In some types of the head mounted display, the use of a video visor replaces the two small screens. Considered a virtual reality device that may be used for both behavioral research and in the performance of a job or task, the head mounted display has the ability to display images into the line of vision, integrating them with the natural world. Here are some interesting facts about head mounted displays, and how they are commonly used.


One of the main qualities of a head mounted display is the fact that the device is stereoscopic in nature. That is, a head mounted display has the ability to transmit a different image to each eye in the line of vision. This results in a type of virtual reality that is commonly classed as augmented reality. The combination of the real world and a virtual image or two can be used to conduct a number of tests, such as depth perception with pilots, or as a means of gauging response times to various types of visual stimuli in professional drivers. In some cases, the projected image appears solid and may seem to interact with the natural background. However, it is also possible to display an image that has a transparent effect, if desired.

The head mounted display also has applications with law enforcement and fire fighting as well. One common application has to do with the display of schematics of a building or the topical layout of a given geographical location during some sort of operation. The head mounted display functions as a guide while not compromising the vision of the official. This allows fire fighters to know where all exits and windows are located when attempting to rescue someone from a burning building. In like manner, a police officer that is tracking a suspect will be aware of all possible exits and entries to the area, making it harder for the suspect to surprise and overpower the officer during the pursuit.

Medical practitioners can also benefit from the use of a head mounted display. Using the device to project images of x-rays, the surgeon can utilize the technology to more efficiently locate and remove growths and tumors from the body. CAT Scans and MRI imaging may also be displayed as well, combining with the natural view of the surgical procedure and providing the surgeon with one more tool that can be used to treat the patient.


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