Many of us are familiar with the Heads Up Display, built-in computer mapping, and automatic communications capabilities that accompany the main characters' of modern-day popular video games. In games like Halo or Crysis, the main character is a soldier wearing an exceptional piece of armor that grants him special abilities. Now, thanks to the efforts of a company called Rallypoint , a recent startup by MIT students, computer technology for soldiers is taking a large step forward with the Handwear Computer Input Device (HCID).
The HCID is a glove designed to allow soldiers to urilize their wearable computers while still holding their weapons or other gear. The HCID grants the wearer the ability to display digital maps, send commands, and communicate all via a small push-button activation system sewn right into the fabric of the glove. This particular device could be a big deal for soldiers particularly because it would allow them to maintain their ready and alert status. Previous wearable computer-like devices have required the soldiers to manipulate more familiar computer input devices like keyboards or mice, thus making them put down their weapons.
Wearable computer systems often require a helmet-mounted display and a belt to hold the remaining components. The HCID allows the soldier to interact with these components by an intricate sensor and push button system sewn into the fingers of the glove. The soldier can control it all from radio frequencies to digital maps to "mouse mode," where the solider can use his finger to manipulate data shown to him on his helmet mounted display.
Says Thad Starner, an associate professor of computing at Georgia Tech University and one of those at the forefront of wearable computer systems, "The problem with most new soldier technologies is that people are trying to do too much. Land Warrior, a wearable computer system built by the U.S. Army last year, was full of cords, batteries, and hardware that weighed almost 17 pounds. It was an overkill of features, and the military stripped it down to its most essential parts..."
Rallypoint has created something different and perhaps even useful with their HCID technology. Any device that can give our troops a tactical advantage over their enemies is a good thing in my book.