The US Army showcased a new technology called "Tactical Augmented Reality" or TAR for soldiers to precisely locate their positions, as well as the locations, during the second biennial Department of Defense Lab Day at the Pentagon May 18.
TAR enables soldiers to see in the dark, all with a heads-up display device that looks like night-vision goggles, or NGV, said Richard Nabors, an associate for strategic planning at U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC.
Designed to be used both during day and night, TAR helps soldiers locate positions in GPS system by automatically geo-registering their device to the current location. It provides much higher level of situational awareness to soldiers than they currently have.
Staff Sgt. Ronald Geer, a counterterrorism non-commissioned officer at CERDEC's Night Vision and Electronics Sensors Directorate, said that with TAR, Soldiers don't have to look down at their GPS device. In fact, they no longer need a separate GPS device because with TAR, the image is in the eyepiece, which is mounted to the Soldier's helmet in the same way NVG is mounted.
Geer pointed out that the eyepiece is connected wirelessly to a tablet the Soldiers wear on their waist and it's wirelessly connected to a thermal site mounted on their rifle or carbine.
However, the key technological breakthrough is that TAR miniaturizes the image to fit into the tiny one-inch-by-one-inch eyepiece.
If a Soldier is pointing his or her weapon, the image of the target, plus other details like the distance to target, the very tiny eyepiece will be getting a high-definition image. Also, a Soldier behind a wall or other obstacle could lift the rifle over the wall and see through the sites via the heads-up display without exposing his or her head.
In addition, TAR's wireless system allows a Soldier to share his or her images with other members of the squad. The tablet allows Soldiers to input information they need or to share their own information with others in their squad.
Currently, CERDEC is working on producing more advanced versions that are in full color and have a brightness display that can even be seen in daylight, David Fellowes, an electronics engineer at CERDEC, said. The current monochrome versions are also bright enough to be seen in daylight.
Fellowes said he's not sure when those will be manufactured and fielded, but during user testing, Soldiers expressed their deep appreciation of the image sharpness and contrast.