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Emerging technologies form futuristic uniform
Army News Service ^ | 7 December 2004 | Sgt. Lorie Jewell

Posted on 12/08/2004 12:17:02 PM PST by Radix

ORLANDO, Fla. (Army News Service, Dec. 7, 2004) – Dressed in black from head to toe and wearing a helmet that allows barely a glimpse of his face, Staff Sgt. Raul Lopez looked like something out of a science fiction thriller.

Lopez, an infantry Soldier stationed at the Natick Soldier Center in Massachusetts, spent four days in what could be the Army uniform of the future at the 24th Army Science Conference, explaining the technology behind it.

The black fabric of the form-fitting suit would be made through the wonder of nanotechnology, which involves manipulating atoms and molecules to create things at the nanometer scale. That’s about 50,000 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair. Soldiers wearing the suit would have the ability to blend into any environment, like a chameleon.

The helmet is the main hub of the uniform, where “all of the action happens,” Lopez said. A tiny video camera in front provides 360-degree situational awareness. A series of sensors inside give the Soldier three-dimensional audiological hearing and the ability to amplify specific sounds, while lowering the volume of others.

Complete voice translation is also provided, for what the Soldier hears and what he or she says. Night vision sensors, minimized to the size of pencil erasers, are also in the helmet. Maps and other situational awareness information are projected on the inside of the visor, while everything the Soldier sees and hears is sent in real time up to higher headquarters.

“It’s all voice activated,” Lopez said. “I can tell it to show me where my buddies are, and it projects it on the visor.”

Virtual reality technology would also play a part in helping the Soldier navigate an environment by projecting maps on the ground surrounding him or her.

Sensors detect threat, provide treatment

Thermal sensors weaved into the fabric of the uniform control its temperature, based on the Soldier’s environment. An on-board respirator, tethered to the Soldier’s back, provides a continuous supply of fresh air – eliminating the need for a protective mask. Should the Soldier have the visor up, or the helmet off, and breath in some kind of harmful agent, the uniform sensor will immediately detect it, release tiny embedded capsules to counter it and inject treatment into the Soldier’s body.

From the waist down, a skeletal system allows the Soldier to carry two or three times his or her body weight, feeling only the weight of their own body through the technology of an XO muscle, which augments a Soldier’s strength.

Wearing the futuristic suit doesn’t make Lopez feel like a science fiction superhero, or invincible.

“It’s just conceptual right now,” he said, smiling.

Liquid armor protection

The uniform might be made out of fabric treated with another technology featured in the conference’s exhibit hall, shear thickening fluid. Unofficially referred to by some as liquid body armor, STF is made of equal parts polyethylene glycol – an inert, non-toxic thickening agent used in a variety of common products, like some ice creams – and miniscule glass particles, said Eric Wetzel, who heads the STF project team in the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

In a small glass vial, the light blue liquid is easily stirred with a small plastic stick – as long as the stick is moving in slow, easy motion. When sudden, rapid or forceful motion is applied, the liquid instantly hardens, preventing any movement.

“When the movement is slow, the glass particles can flow around each other,” Wetzel explained. “But when the movement is fast, the particles bump into each other, preventing any flow of movement.”

STF has been applied to regular Kevlar material, Wetzel said. The fabric’s texture doesn’t change; it looks and feels the same as if it hadn’t been treated. Using a test swatch of four layers of untreated Kevlar – the normal thickness of body armor – Wetzel is able to stab an ice pick through the fabric. But when stabbing a treated section of fabric with all the force he can muster, the ice pick dents the fabric but can’t penetrate through.

Research is being done into whether STF can be of use to the Army, Wetzel said. If it is, Soldiers may start getting gear treated with it in about two years, he added.

See related article: Armed robots soon marching to battle?

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: future; military; miltech; technology
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To: Wallace T.
The downside to these high tech armored soldiers is that, like the knights of the Middle Ages, they cannot be challenged by civilians armed with readily available weapons. A group of citizens armed even with military small arms like the AR-15 or the AK-47, would be no more able to stop such a force than medieval serfs would have been against mounted, armored knights.

On the plus side, we're busy fighting a war against "civilians armed with readily available weapons".

21 posted on 12/08/2004 1:05:08 PM PST by SedVictaCatoni (<><)
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To: mattdono

Judge Dredd!

22 posted on 12/08/2004 1:25:20 PM PST by Bigh4u2
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To: SedVictaCatoni

The terrorists are supported by radical Muslim states and possibly by China and Russia, on a clandestine basis. The patrons of these terrorists could supply equivalent weapons and armor, just as Hitler and Mussolini provided armor and aircraft for Franco's insurrection against the leftist Spanish Republic. OTOH, the supply of French weapons was not crucial to the American victory over the British during our War for Independence. Washington's primary task in the achievement of American victory was to turn farmers and mechanics into soldiers, and civilian leaders into officers. It was in the area of training and military skill, not that of weaponry, where the American revolutionaries were inferior to the British.

23 posted on 12/08/2004 1:27:56 PM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Wallace T.
The patrons of these terrorists could supply equivalent weapons and armor

Um... how? It doesn't exist. When this system is developed, only soldiers of the United States armed forces will have it. It is not likely that our enemies' backers, when they eventually develop an equivalent, will be willing to provide it to foreign guerrillas.

It's a pretty good idea for us to have soldiers which are invincible against fedayeen armed with AK-47s, because that's what we're busy fighting. The fact that Syria is giving them the AK-47s is irrelevant.

24 posted on 12/08/2004 1:36:33 PM PST by SedVictaCatoni (<><)
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To: Radix

My experience with polyethylene glycol is that it is miscible in water.

25 posted on 12/08/2004 1:38:42 PM PST by Old Professer (The accidental trumps the purposeful in every endeavor attended by the incompetent.)
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To: Gorjus
What's really interesting about this - to me - is that this sort of limitation is described in Frank Herbert's "Dune."

Too bad I walked out of that sleeper before picking up on that. On the other hand, my buddy spit a bunch of chewed up gummy bears into the aisle and Ricky Schroder stepped on them and got them all caught up in his shoes.

26 posted on 12/08/2004 1:46:21 PM PST by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along)
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To: asgardshill; Cloud William; Frank_Discussion; Monkey Face; Rastus; raybbr; Rebelbase; Redcloak; ...

I was thinking something more Goa'uld...

More Ancient really. :)
27 posted on 12/08/2004 4:26:44 PM PST by Tealc (Mail me if you want on or off my Jaffa, Kree! ping list)
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To: Radix

"Your lack of faith disturbs me, Osama..."

28 posted on 12/08/2004 4:33:34 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Radix

Whoa! That's AWESOME!!!

29 posted on 12/08/2004 5:46:44 PM PST by StarCMC (It's God's job to forgive Bin Laden; it's our job to arrange the meeting.)
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To: StarCMC

Now that is cool.

30 posted on 12/08/2004 5:53:30 PM PST by Cyclone59 (If you can read this thank a teacher... since it's in English, thank an American Soldier!)
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To: Rodney King
Too bad I walked out of that sleeper before picking up on that.

You actually tried to watch the movie(s)? Silly rabbit!
31 posted on 12/10/2004 10:46:46 AM PST by Gorjus
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To: Tealc; All

Now if we find a way to have those type of guns we will be all set...

32 posted on 12/17/2004 1:31:41 PM PST by KevinDavis (Let the meek inherit the Earth, the rest of us will explore the stars!)
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