Instead of manipulating avatars, SHIELD may be used in navigating submarines. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? After all, SHIELD is already used to fly drones (see video, right).
For more than a decade, the US Navy has been putting off-the-shelf tech into its submarines’ sonar systems. The Navy can swap this gear in and out fast so sailors always get the most advanced stuff.
Started in 2011, the Tactical Advancements for Next Generation (TANG) programme brings a Silicon Valley-style product development process to the US Navy. It puts sailors together with developers to create new ways of working. It’s led by the Navy and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in coordination with Palo Alto design studio IDEO, with participation from Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and other technology companies.
“TANG takes advantage of new technologies and the imagination, knowledge and experience of younger-generation sailors. And TANG goes beyond submarines. Its unique design-thinking approach to technology upgrades is being used for submarine sonar and combat systems, surface ship combatant sonar systems, and surveillance sonar systems,” said Captain Steven Harrison, who heads the TANG programme for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
It is already testing ways to use SHIELD portable gaming console in submarines, such as using SHIELD to replace the gadget sailors have to haul up as the sub glides along the surface. SHIELD’s screen could also let an officer driving the submarine from the sail looking through the periscope see further, and even use some of the periscope’s sophisticated optical enhancements.
SHIELD uses Google’s Android operating system so it’s compatible with other gadgets. Submariners might even use it to steer commercial drones scouting the area around the ship.
Sailors may also use a SHIELD to take a look out of the periscope and zoom in on part of the image with the console-grade controls in their hands.
“The US Navy is a serious technology powerhouse; we are seeking viable, state-of-the-art solutions capable of bringing about transformations on a real-world schedule. TANG is putting those technology solutions — many of which already exist today, in the form of video game controllers, tablets and virtual reality gear — in front of our sailors,” said Harrison.