Heads-up display for real-life Iron Man
Since meeting ex-soldier Richard Browning, in 2016, the team at The Imagination Factory has collaborated with him to develop a holographic heads-up display for his record breaking jet suit.
The same technology used in SwimAR, that provides swimmers real-time feedback under water, gives Richard crucial live data to ensure he can maximise his time in the air, at high speed.
Richard is re-imagining manned flight in the shape of a real-life Iron Man suit that actually flies.
What is driving him? "I'm inspired by doing things that haven't been done," says Richard.
The birth of Daedalus
38-year-old Browning decided he wanted to fly two and a half years ago and has been developing this particular suit in his garage in Salisbury, since the Summer of 2016. He's named this mark 1 jet-engine suit after the Greek mythological figure Daedalus, the father of Icarus. He talks in more detail in a TED talk about his motivation and journey building the suit.
Red Bull Sponsorship
"Richard's jet-pack suit was coming together well, Red Bull was interested and he was depending on a very rudimentary practice to tell him about fuel level and engine performance. It meant playing it safer than he wanted, to avoid crash landing, and was hugely limiting his flight times. We discussed some possibilities and arranged to meet up. Our use of Heads-up display (HUD) tech was a dream come true for him and we were thrilled to start work and watch him test it out."
Mark Hester, of the Imagination Factory, who are developing the heads up display for him, recalls when they first joined forces:
"We met Richard at Innovate2016 in November. It was a busy day at the exhibition, as the response to the prototype we'd developed for swim training, had been overwhelming. It projects an athlete's training data into the water ahead of them, so they don't need to check a wrist timer mid-training and a number of alternative uses were being suggested by visitors to the stand, including Richard's."
"The Marvel character himself insists on constantly 'challenging possibilities' and it felt like we had met the real-life British version in person."
The force comes from six micro gas turbines (jet engines) mounted on his arms and lower back. Though the suit is capable of extreme speeds and altitudes, Browning is currently exercising a bit of restraint, requiring extreme levels of fitness to steady the jet streams.
"Working with Richard has been an inspiring experience," continued Mark, "because of his indomitable pioneering spirit."
"The project is dominated by technical challenges that need to be overcome one at a time, but there's such a great team involved and some great technology like 3D printing and open source electronics, so things are progressing rapidly."
What's it like to fly in a real-life Iron Man suit?
According to Richard Browning, the inventor of this incredible working prototype, "it's like riding a bicycle in three dimensions."
"Our vision," says Richard who also runs his business, Gravity, "is to build an entirely new generation of human flight systems for commercial, military and entertainment applications.
Has real-life Iron Man, Richard Browning, crossed your radar yet this year? He's delivered a TED talk, 'flown' at a Wired conference and set a Guiness World Record for human flight amongst other flight tests. It's been a real privilege to work alongside him on the HUD (head-up display) and be at various events with him, introducing people to the potential for human flight.
The new HUD we've built for him is enabling him to squeeze the most out of the fuel tank with each flight. There have been many iterations of the code and we are just about to design and build a new piece of hardware that fits inside his helmet. More updates soon.
If you would like to know more about the heads-up display technology Richard uses, please get in touch with us here.