Role of Converging Technologies

Nanotechnology holds the promise to provide much greater information, connectivity, and risk reduction to the warfighter. The continued miniaturization of electronic devices will provide 100 times more memory (a terabit of information in a cm2). Processing speeds will increase to terahertz rates. Displays will be flexible and paper thin, if not replaced by direct write of information on the retina. High-bandwidth communication will be netted. Prolific unattended sensors and uninhabited, automated surveillance vehicles under personal control will provide high data streams on local situations. The marriage of semiconductors and biology will provide physiological monitors for alertness, chemical/biological agent threat, and casualty assessment. Nanofibers and nanoporous adsorbents will protect against CB threats while minimizing heat burdens and providing chameleonlike color adaptation for camouflage. The small size of the nanodevices will limit the volume, weight, and power burdens.

Presuming nanotechnology delivers the hardware, advances must be made to create information out of the manifold data streams. The soldier must stay alert to the environment, heads-up or retinal displays are essential, as well as the traditional flat, flexible (paper-like) media. Voice dialogue with the computer is essential to keep hands free for other functions. GPS-derived location, high-precision local maps (cm2 voxels — potentially three-dimensional representations that include information about building structures, underground tunnels, and the like); language translators (for interrogation of the local citizenry); automated weapons that track target location and control the precise moment to fire: all of these capabilities will require new software.

Biotechnology promises considerable advances in monitoring and controlling the physiological condition of a warfighter. New innovations are likely to include sensitive, selective transduction of biological events into signals compatible with electronic devices; new approaches to the neutralization of biological and chemical agents without aggressively attacking other constituents in the local environment; and possible harnessing of body chemistry as a source of local power.

The nano-, info-, biotechnology items above are aides toward more effective learning and decision making. Rapid, effective cognition is critically dependent on body physiology, and on the manner information is organized and delivered (audio, visual, tactile) (Figure E.13).

0 0

Post a comment