Electronic Weapons: Extra Eyeballs for Infantry Commanders


December22, 2006: The U.S. Army is using thousands of small UAVs, that transmit real-time video to commanders below. These videos enable officers to more effectively deploy their troops. But the company, and sometimes platoon, commanders have a very practical problem with keeping an eye on the video. With some systems, theUAV video is shown on a laptop computer. But a more handy (and expensive) controller is becoming common. These look like video game controllers, with a small video screen built in. But even these can be hard to handle for a company commander who is under fire, or otherwise distracted. Many infantry commanders have been looking to goggle type video displays. These have been around for years, and basically put a very small screen right in front of your eye, providing the equivalent (to the viewer) of a laptop size screen. But these devices are fragile, and expensive. Now an Israeli company has come up with what might be a solution. A miniature LCD projector is mounted on the side of eye glasses and projects an image that looks, to the user, like a 60 inch flat screen display viewed at a distance of about three meters. Great for keeping an eye on UAV video. Moreover, the "60 inch flat screen display" is also transparent, so the user is not blind to his surroundings. For military use, this device (called LOE, for Light-guide Optical Element) can be built into the kind of goggles all troops wear in the field. Since it's an Israeli firm that developed this, the Israeli army will probably be the first to adapt it to military use. This has been the case with similar technologies developed recently.


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