Tech Companies Unveil New Gear for Troops

10/25/2012
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
Throughout the five exhibition halls at the Association of United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Washington, D.C., defense contractors from all over the world displayed a slew of new gadgets. A number of them caught National Defense’s eye, from new cameras, to wearable smartphones to translation devices.
L-3’s Bandit
It is a hand-free smartphone that can be attached to clothing, said Charlie Doerlich, director of business development for L-3’s Display Systems.
The Bandit, which is worn on the inside of the arm for optimal viewing while employing a weapon, comes with a number of apps such as GPS, radio and maps. Doerlich said the priority was to reduce the size, weight and power requirements.
“Every time we can take some weight off, it provides the opportunity to carry more water, food or ammunition,” Doerlich said.
Motorola Solutions’ HC1 Headset Computer
The HC1 headset computer can be operated with voice commands to open files and zoom in, and the user’s head movements function like a mouse. A small screen held at eye-level mimics the view of a 15-inch laptop screen.
Having hands free control of a computer would be particularly helpful for the soldiers that do maintenance and repair work, said Darren Koffer, Motorola Solution’s director of product management for mobile computing.
“If I'm doing a repair on a piece of equipment, I can pull up a schematic or a parts book,” he said. “I can actually see what I need to repair at the same time I'm making the repair.”
Using a camera attached to the side of the headset, a mechanic can send video or pictures to a remote expert who can explain the repair process step-by-step, Koffer said. There may also be uses for the computer in training and simulation or for medics.
FLIR’s Recon BN10
Thermal binoculars are not new, but this one has two cameras — one for each eye — to provide depth perception, said Andrew Owen, vice president of product management at FLIR Systems, Inc.
Billed as part of a line of “the world’s first and only true thermal binoculars” the product will start being sold in the near future, Owen said.
 
Vectronix’s COTI
COTI, which stands for Clip-On Thermal Imager, can clip on to night-vision goggles or used alone. A soldier can find targets with no natural light, through dense fog or smoke, said Chuck Fulk, director of programs at Vectronix.
The ability to "outline" images gets soldiers' attention, Fulk said.
“The outline [feature] is very handy if you are looking into bushes or trees, when you can see an image but you can’t see if it is a dog or a person or two people or three people,” said Fulk.
Raytheon’s BBN Transtalk
The Raytheon BBN Transtalk is a handheld translation device built into a mobile phone that translates speech to languages spoken in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Unlike other mobile phone translators, the translation is not run over a network, said Martha Lillie, business manager for media exploitation solutions at Raytheon BBN Technologies. Instead, six engines in the phone power the translation functions, making the captured data more secure.
There are currently seven languages available, including about 80,000 Iraqi Arabic words and 40,000 to 50,000 words each for Pashto and Dari.
Photo Credits: Army, L-3, Motorola Solutions, Flir, Vectronix, Raytheon

Topics: Cyber, Manufacturing, Land Forces

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