May 3, 2014:
Although U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) and American commandoes (Special Forces and SEALs) in general have long had permission to buy whatever they needed they can also request items that do not exist yet and offer large contracts, and use in combat, for firms that can develop and deliver items on the commando wish list. This means a lot of financial incentive for equipment developers because getting the SOCOM seal of approval means more orders from police and special operations units worldwide. This additional incentive acts as one more reason to invest in developing some types of new gear.
The SOCOM wish list is constantly changing. At the moment SOCOM is seeking more streamlined body armor that can be worn under uniforms or civilian clothing and not make it look like the user is wearing body armor. The current protective vests are bulky and that bulk is part of their protective design (many layers of bullet resistant Kevlar fabric plus ceramic plates). There are slimmer protective vests available but these provide much less protection. SOCOM wants inconspicuous shape and more protection.
SOCOM is also looking for better and smaller biometric sensors. In the last decade SOCOM and ground troops in general have found electronic finger print devices and handheld iris readers invaluable in confirming the identity of captured or suspect personnel in the combat zone. SOCOM also wants a portable DNA analyzer and a biometric sensor that can act as a lie detector without requiring the attachment of straps and sensors to the subject’s body. In other words one that operates via infrared and similar short range sensors. Police departments have long sought this sort of equipment as well and several firms are working on it.
While wearable computers like Google Glass have received mixed reviews from the civilian market, special operations troops worldwide, as well as many police organizations want lighter, more powerful versions of Google Glass and that has become a major incentive for developers of this sort of gear to keep at it.
Police and armed forces that operate in hot climates are also waiting for a practical wearable cooling pad for their dogs. These animals wear out quickly in hot climates but with a battery powered cooling pad they would be able to work longer shifts.