Cool military gear would make you an office superhero

See though doors, knock down walls...tweak PowerPoint slides on your wrist!

It’s been said that the military gets the best toys. If that's true, it's no surprise that a lot of us would like some of those toys in the office. Here is a quick wish list of some cool military technology for use in nontraditional office applications.

Computers are perhaps the most vital productivity tools in the modern office. But desktops are clunky and laptops and notebooks are so 20th century. What’s needed is a wearable computer. Luckily, there’s the General Dynamics Itronix GD300 Rugged Wearable Computer. About the size and weight of a commercial handheld GPS unit, this device weighs less than 8 ounces and can be held or worn on the wrist. It has a 3.5-inch touch screen display that allows users move information around, zoom in or out, and place digital markers on maps with the touch of a gloved finger  — perfect for juggling PowerPoint slides on the run.

The GD300 runs on the Android operating system and runs a variety of military and first responder applications, such as maps, friendly force location and text messages. A cable connector allows the device to interface with tactical or land mobile radios and a quadra-helix antenna collects real-time Global Positioning System data, even in mountainous or urban areas. You’ll never get lost on the way to the coffee machine again.

But all mobile electronic device need to be recharged sooner or later. What to do when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, or at a really remote site, with a low battery? That’s where the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System (REPPS) comes in. Already being issued to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, REPPS consists of a flexible 62-watt solar panel, a charge controller, an AC/DC adapter, plugs and charging-related gear. Weighing only 10 pounds, it fits into a backpack and is designed to allow troops to charge batteries or power equipment in the field.

For devices with greater power needs, several REPPS kits can be linked together to provide additional charging muscle. In daylight hours, the kit can charge the most common types of military batteries in about five or six hours. It’s perfect for those corporate team-building exercises in the country.

But what if your batteries run out at night or on a cloudy day? That’s where the Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided kNowledge system comes in. Developed for the Air Force’s elite pararescue teams, the BATMAN ensemble includes a small, chest-mounted computer that provides airmen with real-time logistical and tactical data. But to keep that computer and all the other cool stuff, such as the GD300, charged on the go, you’ll need the Bat Hook — no kidding.

The Bat Hook is a device, about the size of a stereo remote control, with a notch designed to catch onto a power line. A small razor in the notch cuts into the wire’s insulation and draws down power through a cable attached to the hook. The alternating current is converted into direct current and fed into the wearer’s electronics. Now where’s that Batterang application when you need it?

Back at the office, you may want to speak to the boss, but his or her office door is closed. Are they in there, or just out to lunch? You’ll be able to find out with the AN/PPS-26 Sense Through The Wall system — a handheld radar device that detects any motion in an adjacent room. The STTW fits in the user’s right hand and can sense through a variety of materials. Detected movement shows up as one or more yellow dots on the device’s display screen.

A work in progress, the STTW is being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Department’s mad scientist office. The device can scan through most materials up to 8 inches thick, except for metal. Unless someone’s lined their cubicle with tin foil, you’ll always know where your co-workers are with this gizmo.

Most office jobs don’t require much heavy lifting. But let’s say you need to lift something really heavy, perhaps a few hundred pounds of office supplies, or punch out a new doorway for your office. You could call housekeeping, or you could step into Raytheon’s Second Generation Exoskeleton Robotic Suit. The exoskeleton is basically a wearable robot that amplifies the wearer’s strength, endurance and agility. The suit does the work for the wearer and is agile enough to let the user kick a soccer ball, punch a speed bag and easily climb stairs and ramps.

Equipped with a combination of sensors, actuators and controllers, the XOS 2 allows the wearer to easily lift 200 pounds several hundred times without getting tired or punching easily through three inches of wood. The suit is being developed by the military to allow logistics troops to move around heavy objects such as ammunition cases more easily and without the risk of injury. Perhaps the guys down on the loading dock could use a hand.

Reader Comments

Tue, Jan 4, 2011

See the comments to the original article. Many of us who live in the real world rather than the lab, know that messing with power lines without the proper precautions can kill you. You may get away with it a few times, but eventually, you WILL be the shortest path to ground.

Thu, Dec 30, 2010 DEFENDER OF THE FREE WORLD

Any see a potential safety issue with the BATMAN device frying the operator?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above