Electronic binoculars use brain activity to detect threats

It's just what Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker would have wanted for Christmas.

A consortium of researchers has been contracted to develop a panoramic day/night binocular system that will use human brain activity to detect, analyze and alert foot-soldiers to possible threats.

The system, known as Hornet will utilize a custom helmet equipped with electro-encephalogram electrodes placed on the scalp to record the user's continuous electrical brain activity. The operator's neural responses to the presence or absence of potential threats will 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.

When deployed, Hornet will support a wide variety of military and homeland defense applications, including force protection, improvised explosive device (IED) protection, border surveillance and applications now using aided target recognition.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), awarded the consortium the 12-month, $6.7 million, which will be lead by Northrop Grumman. The contract is part of the U.S. Department of Defense's Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System. DARPA says the objective of the CT2WS program is to drive a breakthrough in soldier-portable visual threat warning devices. Recent developments and discoveries in the disparate technology areas of flat field wide angle optics, large pixel count digital imagers, cognitive visual processing algorithms, neurally-based target detection signatures and ultra-low power analog-digital hybrid signal processing electronics.

"The system will maintain persistent surveillance in order to defeat an enemy's attempts to surprise through evasive move-stop-move tactics, giving the US warfighter as much as a 20-minute advantage over his adversaries," says Michael House, Northrop Grumman's CT2WS program manager.

Northrop Grumman's consortium includes SAIC, Georgia Institute of Technology, Theia Technologies, L-3 Communications and others.

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