Walking around Silicon Valley with an augmented reality display on your face makes you a glasshole. On the battlefield, though, similar technology will soon turn U.S. soldiers into a lethal cross between the Terminator and Iron Man.
Q-Warrior, the newest version of helmet-mounted display technology from BAE Systems’ Q-Sight line, is a full-color, 3D heads-up display designed to provide soldiers in the field with rapid, real-time "situational awareness.”
With a high-resolution transparent display, Q-Warrior overlays data and a video stream over the soldier’s view of the world. Q-Warrior also includes enhanced night vision, waypoints and routing information, and the ability to identify hostile and non-hostile forces, track personnel and assets, and coordinate small unit actions.
"Q-Warrior increases the user’s situational awareness by providing the potential to display ‘eyes-out’ information to the user, including textual information, warnings and threats,” Paul Wright, the soldier systems business development lead at BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems, said in a statement. "The biggest demand, in the short term at least, will be in roles where the early adoption of situational awareness technology offers a defined advantage.”
This technology is not the stretch you might think. Specialty work-related applications for everyone from cops to doctors are increasingly considered the future of wearable computing. BAE clearly wants to be the Google of the warzone.
The display would play well with the Army Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) currently under development. TALOS is a powered exoskeleton to haul heavier equipment with liquid armor capable of stopping bullets and the ability to apply wound-sealing foam.
"[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in,” said Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) science adviser, in a statement.
Q-Warrior is initially expected to be deployed with Special Forces and at the section commander level, but BAE says it expects the technology to eventually reach all soldiers.
"This is likely to be within non-traditional military units with reconnaissance roles, such as Forward Air Controllers/Joint Tactical Aircraft Controllers (JTACS) or with Special Forces during counter terrorist tasks,” said Wright. ”The next level of adoption could be light role troops such as airborne forces or marines, where technical systems and aggression help to overcome their lighter equipment.”