An AR headset that can see hidden objects inside a box or under a pile

MIT researchers have built an augmented reality headset called X-AR that lets users see hidden objects inside a box or under a pile

February 28, 2023 12:12 pm | Updated 12:12 pm IST

An AR headset that can see hidden objects inside a box or under a pile

An AR headset that can see hidden objects inside a box or under a pile | Photo Credit: Jimmy Day

MIT researchers have built an augmented reality headset that enables users to see hidden objects inside a box or under a pile.

The headset, called X-AR, combines computer vision and wireless perception to automatically locate a specific item that is hidden from view, according to a release by MIT on February 27.

The device can help e-commerce warehouse workers quickly find items on cluttered shelves or buried in boxes, or by identifying the exact item for an order when many similar objects are in the same place.

It could also be used in a manufacturing facility to help technicians locate the correct parts to assemble a product, the MIT release highlighted.

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It uses radio frequency signals, which can pass through materials like cardboard boxes, plastic containers, or wooden dividers, to find the hidden items that have been labelled with RFID tags, which reflect signals sent by an RF antenna.

The headset directs the user as they walk towards the location of the item, which shows up as a transparent sphere in the augmented reality (AR) interface.

As the user picks up the item, the RFID tag moves along with it. X-AR can measure the motion of the RFID tag and leverage the hand-tracking capability of the headset to localise the item in the user’s hand. Then it checks if the tag is sending the right RF signals to verify that it is the correct object, MIT said.

The researchers tested the device in a warehouse-like environment. They found that the headset could localise hidden items to within 9.8 cm, on average. It could verify that users picked up the correct item with 96% accuracy, the researchers estimated.

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