Friday, June 18, 2010

Military-Grade Augmented Reality

A Chicago-based company called Tanagram Partners is currently developing military-grade augmented reality technology that - if developed to the full potential of its prototypes - would completely change the face of military combat as we know it. . . . First of all, the company is developing a system of lightweight sensors and displays that collect and provide data from and to each individual soldier in the field. This includes a computer, a 360-degree camera, UV and infrared sensors, stereoscopic cameras and OLED translucent display goggles.

With this technology - all housed within the helmet - soldiers will be able to communicate with a massive "home base" server that collects and renders 3D information onto the wearer's goggles in real time. With the company's "painting" technology, various objects and people will be outlined in a specific color to warn soldiers of things like friendly forces, potential danger spots, impending air-raid locations, rendez-vous points and much more.

Read the full story here.


Don Searing said...

The kinds of augmentation they are proposing looks very similar to the "augmentation" in some video game titles which should be familiar to most, if not all of the soldiers that will deploy with this.

Much as the "desktop" metaphor has shaped PC interaction, and the "multi-touch"/"gesture" metaphor is defining the mobile UI, I would think there would be a need to define the metaphor for augmented systems to provide some form of consistency across implementations.

Don Searing said...

Additionally, from a PAIT (Pervasive and Autonomous IT) aspect, this is a good example of where the trends converge and accelerate the developments in both fields.

In the example presentation they show an "area of danger" as designated by a friendly trooper in a sniper/overwatch position. This is far more likely to be a drone/UAV than a fellow soldier in future combat scenarios. So the designation of "danger", while initially determined by a fellow soldier or in a "driven" UAV by a remote pilot, will move with the flight controls more and more to the drone itself.

The large new information and judgement (target and danger designation) needs represented by these types of systems can only be met by automating the collection and analysis of the data (be it by the drone, or by a data-mining algorithm which looks at incidences of violence by area or building (as shown in the article)). Pervasive tech like this AR system acts as a driver (as both a subscriber and publisher of data)on the autonomous aspects of the socio-technical system they deploy in.