Photo: Zebra Imaging – Screenshot
And you thought that Google Street View was cool. Zebra Imaging of Austin, Texas is churning out 3D, holographic battle maps on demand for the U.S. Military, a new technology that is changing the way that soldiers interpret battle instructions and allowing for planning in a way that’s never been possible before.
The holograms don’t require goggles, glasses, or projection; All this tech needs is a flashlight to make the flat print-out come to life in three dimensions.
But here’s the coolest part.
What’s specifically awesome about the maps is that they can be requested on the first of the month by a commander in Afghanistan and can arrive from Texas by the seventh. And most of that is travel time, the Army Times reports.
That speed means that the maps are useful at all levels of planning.
This allows for commanders to request a map for an upcoming operation, and in the briefing show units what to anticipate in detail and depth that an aerial image can’t approach.
The tech itself is incredible.
The maps are activated by pointing a flashlight at them, which makes the specialised prints come to life. Buildings jump outward, bunkers jump inward. The two foot by three foot maps can be rolled up, transported easily, and are scratch resistant, which allows for convenience in non-ideal situations.
It’s especially useful when the Army works with other militaries.
Also useful is the map’s ability to transcend language barriers. With photographs, articulating height, depth, and positioning requires verbal descriptions. With the 3D tech, it’s all visual.
They’re also seeing widespread use as well. Around 12,000 holographic images have been used in Afghanistan and Iraq since their introduction in 2005. But never before has the turnaround time been this brief.
The next step? Real time generation of the images. While Zebra is planning on sending one of its printers over to Afghanistan, the possibility of generating the images in real-time remains the goal for 3D holographs at the moment.
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