Photo: via DARPA
The defence Advanced Research Project Agency wants to fuse Android mobile phones with its PIXNET (Pixel Network for Dynamic visualisation) system to help individual soldiers see on the battlefield.The way researchers imagine it, soldiers would wear an Android smartphone strapped to their forearm, which would serve as the processor for information gathered remotely via a small, powerful camera attached to the helmet. The smartphone would then send the information directly to something like combat Google Glasses.
But here’s the kicker — the views available include near-infrared, infrared, high definition, and other forms of sight, allowing soldiers to cut through smoke and darkness. It’s like ‘Predator’ vision on the battlefield.
It doesn’t stop there though: the system, which as of yet does not have a name, also may integrate quick information sharing on the battlefield — linking soldiers together in a way unprecedented on the battlefield. So if a commander wants active frontline intelligence on the battlefield, he would just reach down to his forearm and dial in that particular individual’s network, and bango, he’s seeing what his soldier is seeing.
There have been a few iterations of this HUD-tech in the past, but none as affordable ($4 thousand) or as speedy and light as the one DARPA imagines (previous units were about $40 thousand a pop and much bulkier).
Researchers are also working on algorithms that automatically define targets and friendly units on the battlefield. Friendly units are much easier, as each soldier can wear a signal device which communicates with local HUDs. The algorithms for enemies are based on behaviour and weapon-recognition.
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