Researchers at MIT have built a wearable real-time mapping system using a stripped-down Kinect sensor and a laser rangefinder. It’s simply a prototype at this point, but the user can wear this while navigating new territory and it will automatically create a map based on what’s seen in the Kinect’s 270-degree field of view. The device will then wirelessly transfer data in real-time so that the map can be viewed remotely. The device can also track multi-level movement using an internal sensor and a barometer.

It’s not perfect (yet), and Marice Fallon, one of the research scientists, says one of the issues occurs when the wearer backtracks over already discovered areas. Despite this flaw, it’s already a remarkable piece of technology and could prove to be extremely beneficial in things like search and rescue missions. The wearer can manually indicate points of interest on the map, which can help make up for some of the inaccuracies of the scan.

Both the US Airforce and the Office of Naval Research are supporting the project and with good reason. Check out the video below to see exactly how the device works. Gamers will notice that it’s not too far off from mapping in a traditional videogame.

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