The Military Is About to Get New Spy Glasses

The Defense Department's new smart spectacles go beyond Google Glass
The Military Is About to Get New Spy Glasses

Image Credits: osterhoutgroup.com

by Patrick Tucker | National Journal | June 27, 2014


Getting secret information to specific people, like the location of the nearest nuclear power plant, in a way that doesn’t draw attention from outside is a classic spy problem. Another one is giving agents the ability to match names to faces in the real world, at blackjack tables and fancy soirees and other places spies frequent. The Defense Department is buying some new spy specs to give spooks in the field an intelligence edge over everybody else.

The glasses, called simply the X6, are from San Francisco-based Osterhout Design Group. They look like the lovechild of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing more information to the wearer than the small window on Google’s much-maligned headset but not obstructing vision like the Oculus Rift. (Admittedly, for spy glasses, they lack a certain subtlety.)

At a recent innovation symposium at Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., Bobby King, vice president of special projects for Osterhout, demonstrated how the headset provides situational intelligence. Defense Onelooked through the glasses at a static, two-dimensional map and suddenly structures appeared in three dimensions related to objects of interest. King confirmed that the map was just a regular print of a satellite photograph. With that particular app, the glasses send information to a server that then processes the image against others to determine the location depicted. The glasses then present data from the database visually in the form of structures, special instructions, clues, etc. The view was smarter and more useful than what you would see with Google Glass, but didn’t get in the way of the user’s ability to actually see, like a clunky virtual reality headset.

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