The growth of virtual reality has increased demand for more realistic video displays, but existing head-up display helmets are expensive and difficult to use. Gerard de Wit and Joseph Braat at Delft have developed a retinal scanning display (RSD) which uses less power and offers higher resolution than current models.

RSD works by adapting the scan line technique found in every TV set. In your TV, an electron beam moves rapidly across the screen to produce the final image. RSD takes this one step further by treating the retina as the screen, and firing a low powered laser beam directly into the eyeball to generate the image.

De Wit and Braat claim that the technique produces an extremely high quality picture and believe that the process can convince the eye that it is seeing a full three-dimensional colour display.

The Delft group are not the only researchers working on this technique. Microvision, a company based in Seattle, US, were recently awarded contracts from the US military for similar headsets. Other companies - such as Boeing and Ericsson Saab Avionics - are evaluating the technology for use in aircraft.