Is Microsoft's Kinect technology a viable, cheap alternative to run military vehicles?
It was not all that long ago when modern, gesture-based technology was limited to laboratory testing or futuristic films. Cell phones were only equipped with basic keypads, and USB connections on television sets did not exist.
Now, over half of modern phones are sold as touchscreen devices, and children play video games using their entire body rather than just by use of a control pad -- through machines including the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360.
In the military, there is a shift towards technology-based solutions -- from using machines in training military animals to robotic sand-fleas that are able to jump to high levels for monitoring terrain.
According to TechNewsDaily, the U.S. military is now exploring the options provided by Microsoft's Kinect hardware -- more often associated with the popular gaming console Xbox 360.
The cheap, gesture-tracking technology would be used as a head tracking tool -- a way to introduce smart cockpits that are able to monitor and track what pilots see and do, and therefore be able to respond quickly to the needs of both the military and individual pilots during combat scenarios.
This kind of technology already exists in the military, but comes in the form of expensive headgear that may not be financially viable enough to equip every pilot with.
The Army's solicitation for the small-business innovation research program on April 25 stated:
"New technology from the gaming world has the potential to substantially reduce the cost of adding head tracking to conventional helicopters, as well as the ability to do body tracking and gesture recognition to support future intelligent cockpits."
If Kinect technology could be implemented as a cheap but powerful solution, then it would be both an efficient and cost-effective method to integrate modern technology into combat scenarios for the Army.
The Army is also considering "Minority Report"-style virtual controls and displays for the next generation of smarter cockpits, that can help pilots by automatically identifying targets, report on damage based on where a pilot looks, and even potentially be able to monitor the physical and mental health levels of an individual.
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