Long gone are the days of pushing plastic armies around hand-drawn maps. Today’s military planners deserve technology of the future, and that means nothing less than 3-D holograms will do. Luckily, we have DARPA, ever-ready to step in with a solution. The Urban Photonic Sandtable Display (UPSD) allows up to 20 participants to simultaneously view and manipulate the 360-degree, 3-D image on the table, without having to wear 3-D glasses.
The display can be expanded to as large as six feet, and has a visual depth of up to 12 inches. UPSD is also interactive – battle planners can freeze, rotate and zoom in on the images. They can also print out two-dimensional representations of the 3-D data (seen above) that troops can carry with them on their missions.
Zebra Imaging won the contract to create the technology for UPSD, and DARPA is using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems for the data. The technology is not field-ready yet but has been demonstrated and is now being installed in Army and Air Force research centers.