Do you ever look into your backyard at night wondering if there are hostiles hiding in the bushes readying for an ambush? Well, if Pentagon’s research branch, Darpa, succeeds on implementing heat vision on cellphones, as is their plan, then you may soon have available to you a militarized iPhone to safeguard your house.
Darpa has solicited a project where they want thermal imaging capabilities small enough to fit into a rifle sight, on the dashboard of a vehicle, or in a cell phone. And they’re not satisfied with it only being able to determine a person’s approach, but also to be clear enough so that the viewer can “determine that personnel target(s) are present and that the target(s) are potentially an immediate threat (i.e., with RPG/Rifle) to the host vehicle/soldier/etc.”
Darpa has named the project the “Low-Cost Thermal Imager Manufacturing” (LCTI-M) project. They want the technology to be wafer-thin and low cost because it stated that everything—the cameras, optics, manufacturing, and software—has to be under $500 per unit. They also want the “thermal core” to be less than 25 grams.
The Pentagon knows that commercial possibilities are there for this technology and explicitly states it in the solicitation: “If successful, the IR(Infrared) cellphone camera-like approach will lead to wide-spread proliferation in military and consumer products. Similar to visible cameras, the IR cellphone camera products will lead a continued quest for improved cost-efficiency in various manufacturing methodologies, making it more attractive in the commercial sectors.”
Tablets and hand-held devices are quite popular in the military right now for their speed and mobility. Special Operations Command is making an app suite to work with Android phones and just last March the Army held an app building contest.
The project has given engineers a timetable of three years to complete the technology. No worries, you’ll only be answering to the Pentagon.