E-books, tablets and computers are great ways to call up information, unless your hands aren't free to make use of them.
Computer technicians and mechanics often need to page through repair manuals while on the job, but that takes a while to do even when the text is online. It also breaks up the technician's train of thought and adds to the time it takes to finish the job.
Augmented reality may solve that problem, via a pair of special glasses. The idea is similar to Google Glass.
Google Glass is a smart-phone interface that works by a combination of accelerometers reading the position of the wearer's head and a touch pad on the piece that goes over the ear.
For this new device, researchers at the Fraunhofer Center for Organics, Materials and Electronic Devices in Dresden, Germany, have designed an interactive, head-mounted display based on organic light-emitting diode technology.
The Fraunhofer design tracks the movements of the eyes, using a combination of the LEDs (to transmit both light and the image) and photodetectors, which pick up the eye's position. It's essentially a combination display and digital camera.
The eye's position takes the place of a finger swipe on a tablet or a mouse click -- glancing at the arrow in the display, for instance turns a page.
The designers say it completely frees the hands, unlike Google Glass, which still needs a hand to work.
Technicians would be able to flip through a manual while looking at whatever damage they are assessing.
The technology is being presented at the Electronica Trade Fair in Munich.