From 'blast boxers' to Golden-i: Five military gadgets that could change war

5. Golden-i

  • close
    The Golden-i is a lightweight Bluetooth/WiFi headset that provides users a 15-inch virtual PC display with a hands-free, natural speech recognition (hard hat not included).
    Business Wire
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

The most futuristic gadget of the bunch, the Golden-i is reminiscent of what a sci-fi cyborg might wear: a hands-free headset “that’s essentially a full laptop that you wear on your head,” says Chris Parkinson, Golden-i software manager.

At the front of the headset, just below the wearer’s line of sight, is a screen that measures 0.44 inches across. But “when you’re looking at it, it seems to be a 15-inch monitor,” Dr. Parkinson says. “In that way, it’s designed to be nonobtrusive. It doesn’t block your vision.”

The headset uses speech-recognition technology to tap into databases, including, say, photographs and maps.

“It’s the same as if you glance down at your dashboard for information when you’re in your car,” says Parkinson. “So it’s not designed for reading books, like a Kindle, or for watching movies. It’s for getting the information you need and moving on.” 

The headset has a built-in camera, too, so that soldiers can stream video back to base. “So if you’re a soldier on the front lines, everyone can be watching what you see in real time,” says Parkinson.

Likewise, the headsets theoretically have the ability to receive live streaming video “from anywhere,” he adds. “If you’re on the battlefield, you could get a live video from a Predator drone sent directly into your eyepiece. That’s one option.” 

What’s more, the cameras are interchangeable, so users might choose to put in an infrared camera, for example. “Police might use that to follow blood splats on the floor” during a criminal investigation, Parkinson adds. “It becomes almost a third eye.”

The US military hasn’t fielded any of the headsets yet, but during the Association of the United States Army trade show earlier this month in Washington, the gadget “got fantastic response,” says Parkinson, and defense companies have bought a number of the units. “It’s so functional and lightweight, you might get skeptics. But as soon as you issue a voice command and it responds immediately you get a big ‘wow.’ ”

5 of 5