Electronic Weapons: January 23, 2005

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Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may soon receive night vision goggles that think. In the last few years there has been a breakthrough in pattern recognition software, which has allowed daylight and night vision cameras to recognize what they see, and alert operators of what is likely out there. The first effective versions of this equipment have entered service in the past few years. This is the SPIDER (Stabilized Automatic Intruder Detection System), from Israeli firm Controp, which has a growing list of satisfied customers. Pattern recognition has long been seen as a technology that would be useful once computers became cheap and powerful enough to take advantage of it. Digital cameras capable of delivering sufficient data for the pattern recognition software to see, with a high degree of certainty, have been arriving on the scene as well. So decades of pattern recognition research is now being put to work. There will be an explosion of applications for this kind of software, especially for military applications. Work is already underway to equip heat imaging devices, commonly used by armored vehicles, individual night vision goggles, combat robots and weapons sights, with this kind of software. Troops equipped with this equipment wont be immune to night attack, but the attackers will have to move as if it was daylight, slowly and from behind whatever cover is available. Moving swiftly under cover of night will no longer be possible if the other side has night vision devices equipped with pattern recognition software.

 


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