U.S. Army advances testing of wearable video technology
First-year funding of $862,000 was awarded by the ARL to V.I.O. Inc., a developer of wearable video technology based in Marquette, Mich. In turn, V.I.O. subcontracted with Michigan Technological University to perform research and development of the wearable video-capture electronics.
The funding is part of the U.S. Department of Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007, as well as a Conference Report passed by the U.S. House of Representatives for fiscal year 2008.
“This technology could aid troops in intelligence gathering, mission debriefing and training activities,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin also voiced his support for selecting a Michigan company to spearhead development of the video technology. “We must continue to leverage the strong contributions of Michigan’s small businesses to provide the best tools available to our men and women in uniform.”
Hands-free video capture
V.I.O.’s current wearable video platform, called POV.1, offers an integrated point-of-view system to create videos for immediate access. The system includes a mountable camera head, microphone, built-in video recorder with LCD screen, wireless remote and PC software for managing and distributing video content.
Thanks to the wearable camera head, which can mount on user’s helmet, the system enables single-handed operation and hands-free video capture. System components resist shock, water, dust storms and other demanding field conditions.
“The use of helmet-mounted video has the potential to improve significantly the quality of intelligence gathered by military operators on patrol and other missions,” said Shawn Cullen, director of military sales at V.I.O. “The video can help enable soldiers and Marines gather evidence against the enemy, identify hazards such as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), turn over information to other supporting military units and aid in training by providing a POV perspective during training missions in preparation for combat.”
Partnerships extend reach and development
The POV.1 has been in combat use by two U.S. Army infantry divisions deployed in Iraq. The system also is sold to law-enforcement and public-safety agencies, as well as sports/recreational markets.
“Initial production of our POV digital camera in the fall of 2007 was prioritized for orders from several infantry divisions operating in battlefield conditions overseas,” said David Ollila, president of V.I.O. “Feedback from soldiers using the system on the ground drives our focus around research and development to design the next-generation wearable video camera. Our partnership with the Army Research Laboratory provides critical resources to do this well.”
The contract is part of the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate’s (SEDD) research and development of sensors and electron devices. Working in collaboration with academic and industry partners, the SEDD conducts innovative research to provide the Army with advancements in electro-optic sensors, radio-frequency technology, power and energy, signature management and autonomous sensing.
Goals are to transition these technologies in support of reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition, as well as fire control, survivability, mobility, lethality and related applications.
“We are very pleased to partner with V.I.O. on the Wearable Video Capture System/POV project,” said Rick Berkey, senior research engineer and manager of project development at Michigan Tech. “V.I.O.’s technology and products align well with several of our faculty’s research and expertise in electronics, optics, photonics and wireless communications.”
For more information about V.I.O.’s wearable video technology, visit http://www.vio-pov.com/.