Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wiimote and iPhone - The New Tools To Counter Terrorism

Shades of the 80's "The Last Starfighter" - recent technological innovations in the way home gaming consoles and digital music are being used have bled over into the military sector. The Packbot (pictured above) is being developed in order to be controlled by a device that mimics the intuitive commands that a Wiimote uses (ie - where the motion sensors on the controller is directly mirrored on the robot). According to David Bruemmer, an engineer at the US Department of Energy's Idaho National Lab:

"Our tests show 90 per cent of the operator's workload goes into driving the robot rather than keeping an eye on the sensor data."
And iPhones are also getting into the mix as well by allowing the device to be use to receive images from the Packbot:
As an alternative to lugging a laptop around, there are plans to modify the Packbot to transmit footage compatible with the palm-sized iPhone. Its touch screen should also allow soldiers to manipulate the video captured by the robot more intuitively.
I understand why the military is modifying these relatively new products for tactical uses but I just find it sad that the government can't do the same kind of development and testing on these types of innovations that the R&D guys over at Nintendo and Apple can do simply because they have the financial capabilities and workforce to do so.

And I don't mean this as purely an American thing as the type of work that these robots do are the ones where they can save lives by disarming bombs or detecting land mines. I hate to get all political but there should come a time where the latest gaming innovation by Sony or Microsoft should take a back seat to something that can be used for the great good of the world.

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