DARPA Developing Virtual Reality Contact LensesBy: Billy Thomas - February 2, 2012
The DOD is working on some cool new technology to help with soldiers performing ISR or Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. These activities require special equipment that can come as a bit of a hassle at times.
DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on technology that can be applied to wearable lenses to fit in the eye much like a contact lens. The lenses would contain the technology to display a full color HUD that can then display full color digital images; the tech would be used to help heighten the situational awareness of the user.
In application, the lenses will help soldiers focus on objects both near and far at the same time, improving their ability to use portable displays while keeping aware of the environment in reality.
DARPA is developing the technology as part of a SCENICC program A.K.A Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Computers. The programs is meant to intagrate ranges of technology including video processing, immersive displays, optical sensing and advanced imaging. This would eliminate the ISR “capibility gap” that stands with the individual soldier.
Currently, according to one source, the ISR activities are haltered due to equipment such as such as binoculars, night vision goggles and other related ISR equipment. These tools put the soldier in a limited performance mode thus putting him/her as a “soldier down”.
according to a broad agency announcement about SCENICC on FedBizOpps.gov:
“The current gap in soldier-centric situational awareness results from the predominantly airborne, video-based, downward-looking, operational concept employed by nearly all ISR systems producing critical limitations to resolution, field-of-view (FOV), waveband coverage, persistence, and access to actionable information at the soldier scale.”
With the eye lens tech, the benefit would be, that the soldier using, would operate and perform his/her ISR duties hands free. The technology can provide similar or even better magnification on the demand of the user. DARPA says ultimately the technology would cost less than than the standard ISR equipment currently given.
The military has been interested in VR technology for soldiers in the field for some time now. They feel it would not only improve ISR duties, but improve soldier training as well.
Some more cool information, the DOD is currently working on tech that will allow soldiers to feel explosions and debris during computer simulated training.