MIT AR headset makes the invisible visible

March 20, 2023

RFID and data glasses help find lost objects in everyday life

The new augmented reality headset “X-AR” from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( (MIT) helps forgetful people find lost objects. The device combines computer vision and RFID and even makes objects visible that are lying under a stack of books or in a cardboard box. The prerequisite is that the item being searched for has an RFID tag attached to it. This is a tiny electronic device that contains a coil to generate electricity, an identifier and a high-frequency transmitter.

Signals show the way
The AR glasses contain a transmitter that emits high-frequency signals into the room. The coil in the RFID tag receives them and converts them into electricity. This powers the integrated transmitter so that it reveals its identifier, which is received by the search array. The system also determines the angle at which the signal is emitted.
The software processes this information and converts it into a glowing sphere that can be seen in the headset. Like the three kings who are said to have once followed the morning star, the seeker follows the orb, which guides him to his destination. As soon as the object is found, the system checks whether it is indeed the missing car key.

Very high hit rate
In tests in a warehouse-like environment, the system located wanted objects with an average accuracy of 9.8 centimetres. A hit rate of 96 per cent was achieved when checking the identity of the item found. X-AR could not only help in the home to find glasses, keys and other items that seem to like to hide, but also help e-commerce warehouse workers to quickly find goods on full shelves and identify ordered items when there are many similar-looking objects in the same bin.
It could also be used in manufacturing plants, the MIT researchers said, to help assemblers find the parts they need at any given time. “Our goal was to build an augmented reality system that allows you to see invisible things,” says MIT researcher and computer scientist Fadel Adib

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