US Army Is Testing Facial Recognition Goggles

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The growing skepticism against facial recognition technology and the studies that prove its inaccuracy seem to be side swept by the U.S. government. Amid clamor from security and privacy advocates as well as from the scientific community, the United States has been seen to use the technology, especially for law enforcement.

Now, Uncle Sam wants the U.S. Army to be equipped with a facial recognition goggles to help them identify enemies and terrorists right in front of their eyes, literally.

According to sources, U.S. soldiers could be able to identify enemies, suspects, or any persons of interest they’re seeking just by looking through the goggles on their head, and this will happen “very soon.”

The U.S. Army is reportedly testing a modified gamer’s headset to allow soldiers to see through drone’s eyes, translate language real-time, and train anywhere through virtual reality.

Last Thursday, U.S. military publicly showed the newest development in their Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, or a combat-ready glasses that blends digital elements into a soldier’s field of view.

“We’re going to demonstrate very, very soon, the ability, on body — if there are persons of interest that you want to look for and you’re walking around, it will identify those very quickly,” said Col. Chris Schneider, project manager for IVAS, at a U.S. Army Futures Command demonstration in Virginia.

The Integrated Visual Augmentation System or IVAS is a project developed by Microsoft under a $480 million contract the service awarded in late November and replaces the Heads-Up Display 3 to allow soldiers to view their weapon sight reticle and other key tactical information through an advanced goggle or eyepiece.

The Army’s announcement also includes their plan to develop a new assault weapon that can be integrated with the IVAS in order to improve a soldier’s aiming abilities.

“So, when I integrate the Next Generation Squad weapon into the IVAS … I’ve got my night-vision capability, I’ve got my operational graphics, I’ve got the reticle from my weapon in my goggle so I can shoot around corners, I can shoot from defilade — that is fundamental,” Joe L’Etoile, a veteran Marine officer who leads the Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF) of the US Army, said.

One key feature of the new IVAS goggles is its capacity to view through the eyes of a small drone, like Black Hornet, a type of special “personal reconnaissance drones” to help army officers to conduct surveillance, now in real-time using the IVAS goggles.

“We’re tracking very well to integrate all sensor data onto to IVAS that we can move across a network, Schneider said, “…whether it be a UAV or a ground sensor, any visual data that we can process, we can get to the soldier. That’s what we’re working on.”

People particular in the matter said that the U.S. Army is planning to demonstrate the goggles’ drone viewing capability on October at Fort Pickett, in Virginia.

According to Schneider, the drone viewing feature of the goggles, which is technically a modified version of the Microsoft HoloLens gaming device is just one of the promising capabilities of the technology they are developing.

“We’ve got 3000 hours of feedback already. That’s very rare that occurs,” Schneider said.

Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars will roll out first

While the IVAS is expected to be rolled out not later than the fall of 2020, soldiers will receive new Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars, or ENV-Gs, as soon as the fall. It is a night-vision goggle that provides soldiers with on-rifle sight through the lenses that allow them to aim accurately through corners.

“Everything that his weapon is seeing, he’ll see it. We actually bring people down to our range, have them look this way, engage this way. That rapid target acquisition would actually allow him, if he chose, to stand behind the building to actually stick his weapon out, not expose his body, and he would still be able to engage targets, accurately, without exposing himself,” said Brig. Gen. David Hodne, Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team director.

“These will go to some of our top tier units now. Then, when IVAS comes out, it will go to some of those top tier units. Then we will cascade this capability until the point where some of our much, much older goggles, we just cascade them out. So the entire force becomes much more effective.”

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