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Pentagon wants to equip troops with Terminator-vision

December 25, 2010 - Washington

US soldiers may soon be able to see dangers lurking behind them in real time, and be able to tell if an object a kilometre away is a walking stick or an AK-47. Pentagon researchers are considering giving them terminator vision.

Darpa, the Pentagon's far-out research branch, has unveiled the Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras effort, or SCENICC, reports

This would allow a suite of cameras that digitally capture a kilometer-wide, 360-degree sphere, representing the image in 3-D onto a wearable eyepiece.

And it would be possible to literally see all around you, including behind yourself, and zooming in at will, creating a "stereoscopic/binocular system, simultaneously providing 10x zoom to both eyes."

This could be done hands-free, apparently by barking out or pre-programming a command to adjust focus.

Darpa also wants the eyepiece to include "high-resolution computer-enhanced imagery as well as task-specific non-image data products such as mission data overlays, threat warnings/alerts, targeting assistance, etc."

SCENICC envisions a "networked optical sensing capability" that fuses images taken from nodes worn by "collections of soldiers and/or unmanned vehicles."

It also has to be ridiculously lightweight, weighing less than 700 grams for the entire system - including a battery powerful enough to "exceed 24 hours [usage] under normal conditions."

That's about a pound and a half, maximum. The Army's experimental ensemble of wearable gadgets weighs about eight pounds. And it is to SCENICC what your Roomba is to the T-1000.

Indeed, judging from the solicitation, while SCENICC is supposed to be networked, it doesn't seem to have any communications requirements for soldiers to talk through what their optics are sharing with each other.


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