Touch-screen technologies based on surface waves and improved resistive screen systems promise to increase touch-display durability, making these devices more useful for both military and general public applications. Although several current offerings provide users with the convenience of entering mouse-free computer commands, many have drawbacks that have limited their consistent, effective use. Two new approaches address these problems, offering additional options to current users and opening up potential applications in a variety of markets.
Maintaining air supremacy soon may be easier for U.S. fighter pilots equipped with the latest helmet technology. Head-tracking display screens are being designed to allow target designation with little more than a pilot's nod. The introduction at the end of the 1980s of the Soviet AA-11 Archer air-to-air missile revealed a serious deficiency in U.S. capabilities. That deficiency took on increasingly ominous significance as Russian-built aircraft and air-launched weapons, integrated with helmet-mounted sights and capable of being launched at up to 90 degrees off boresight of a target, proliferated widely to governments hostile to the United States. The problem is now being addressed in a joint U.S. Navy-U.S. Air Force effort, which combines the AIM-9X missile, an advanced short-range dogfight weapon with a targeting device that can aim sensors and weapons wherever a pilot looks.
Two new types of flat screen displays are now being used in rugged military and commercial applications. The first type, which was designed for use on U.S. Army field generators, is an intelligent display screen that employs an innovative "transflective" design. This allows information to be easily read in both bright sunlight and darkness while requiring unusually low power inputs to operate.