A British firm is embracing the military's trend toward using commercial electronics by developing a growing range of ruggedized products and systems. The focus of this longtime battlefield platform equipment provider has shifted from ruggedizing specific commercial hardware to providing complete off-the-shelf technology systems that are suited for military environments.
A telecommunications company is seeking to lead the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence into the information age with its own information technology experience. Beginning with converting the British military's communications system to a commercial enterprise, the company is extending its menu of services and systems to fit a governmentwide approach to information access.
Engineers are applying information technology practices to create complex simulations that go beyond the reach of existing single systems. Extensive simulations that model large-scale military operations can be generated by networking established systems to produce data in near real time.
Engineers are using a new class of algorithms capable of encoding and decoding communications at speeds close to transmission channel maximum capacities, a feat that has eluded engineers since the 1940s when a theoretical limit to channel capacity was first defined. Under development since the early 1990s, these algorithms are now being tested in proof-of-concept devices.
An evolving technology promises efficient spectrum use to enable bandwidth on demand in wireless broadband access systems. The technology is being implemented in point-to-multipoint systems operating across the millimeter wave region to provide wireless communications transmissions.
Internet accessible data libraries are looming as an important element in the continuing evolution of communications devices. By being able to hold a variety of waveform and signal processing algorithms on chips and in databases, these information storehouses give users enhanced flexibility in selecting specific material when and where they need it.
While blazing a trail on the frontier of paperless contracting, the U.S. Defense Department is discovering that a new set of opportunities and challenges emerges from change in the workplace. As in any formidable military operation, its leaders are striving to complete the mission successfully, while gathering information to share with others who are sure to follow the path to more efficient business practices.
The military information revolution has been underway for many years now, but its outcome remains far from clear. Advances in communications and computing are teaming with promising materials developments to reshape the defense environment for decades to come. However, the defense community may be starting to suffer an Alvin Toffler-style "future shock" as it tries to embrace too many technology-enabled opportunities. It is absolutely vital that defense planners focus on their goals for the military and plan accordingly, rather than merely design future forces around new or anticipated technologies.
Communications, computer and material technologies will deeply impact future military and peacekeeping missions by empowering warfighters at every conceivable command level. Smart computers will sift through mounds of data to deliver knowledge directly to a combatant who is clothed in a modern-day suit of armor. Today's scientists predict that a combination of imagination and analytical work conducted at the end of this century will lead to 21st century warfighters who respond quickly and accurately to defeat enemies.
Eyeglasses with directional microphones that enhance hearing, polymeric lattices that heal broken bones, and databases that scan weather information to predict earthquakes are just a hint of government-developed technologies that could drastically alter life in the next century. From cars and airplanes to personal computers and lasers in common household products, technological advancement in America has evolved dramatically in the past 100 years and will occur twice as rapidly throughout the next 50 years, scientists predict.