Pentagon OKs ‘brainwave binoculars’

THE Pentagon has approved $US6.7 million ($7m) to develop binoculars that would tap a user’s brainwaves to home in on threats.

Northrop Grumman Corporation said today it was leading an academic and industry consortium for the project, known as the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System program, or CT2WS.

The plan featured a custom helmet equipped with electrodes placed on the scalp to record neural responses to the presence or absence of potential threats, Northrop said.

The brain’s input would “train the system’s algorithms, which will continue to be refined over time so that the warfighter is always presented with items of relevance to his mission”, the company said.

The contract was awarded by the Defence Advanced Projects Agency, or DARPA, a Pentagon arm that acts as a cradle of new technology for use by the US military.

The goal is to detect enemy forces and vehicles over 1-10km while surveying a 120deg or greater field of view, according to documents on DARPA’s website.

“At the same time we must look at the projected size, weight and power of the notional system to determine if the capabilities we are aiming for can be constrained into something fieldable by our military,” said DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker.

Neither Northrop nor the military provided precise details on how the project might work if put into operation.

After the project’s initial 12-month, $US6.7m stage, DARPA has the option to extend the contract for two more phases to develop the subsystems and a final prototype of portable assemblies.

“A prototype is not a product, so if we are three years away from a prototype we might be five years or more away from a device that might be considered a product,” Ms Walker said.

Northrop Grumman said it was striving for “persistent surveillance” in the system to give early notice of any enemy “move-stop-move tactics”.

If and when deployed, such a system could play a role in such things as force protection, defeating roadside bombs, border surveillance and other advanced military and homeland defense applications, the company said.

By Jim Wolf in Washington
June 10, 2008 10:17am

Source: Herald Sun

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