Infantry: Good Vibrations


January17, 2007: Communications during combat operations have always been a problem for the infantry. So now the U.S. Army is experimenting with a vibrating vest. Seriously.

There is a need. Hand signals require at least one hand. Shouting often doesn't work when it's really noisy, or when you don't want to alert the enemy about where you are. Personal radios would appear to be a prefect solution, but you still have to talk, and attempts to use Morse code, when silence is needed, have not worked out well.

The vibrating vest is simply that, with sixteen vibrators arranged on the back of the vest. Used singly or in combination, the vibrating elements could convey information from a squad or platoon leader, who would be using a small keypad (about the size and shape of a cell phone.) Initial tests were successful, and the developers believe the system could also be used by firefighters and SWAT teams. Even if not adopted by the infantry, it could be useful for commandos, who use all sorts of exotic equipment in order to gain an additional edge in their operations.


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