Today, warfighters are burdened by a web of cables linking technologies that span the head and torso regions of the
body. These cables help to provide interoperability between helmet-worn peripherals such as head mounted displays
(HMDs), cameras, and communication equipment with chest-worn computers and radios. Although promoting enhanced
capabilities, this cabling also poses snag hazards and makes it difficult for the warfighter to extricate himself from his kit
when necessary. A newly developed wireless personal area network (WPAN), one that uses optical transceivers, may
prove to be an acceptable alternative to traditional cabling. Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th
Human Performance Wing are exploring how best to mount the WPAN transceivers to the body in order to facilitate
unimpeded data transfer while also maintaining the operator's natural range of motion. This report describes the two-step
research process used to identify the performance limitations and usability of a body-worn optical wireless system.
Firstly, researchers characterized the field of view for the current generation of optical WPAN transceivers. Then, this
field of view was compared with anthropometric data describing the range of motion of the cervical vertebrae to see if
the data link would be lost at the extremes of an operator's head movement. Finally, this report includes an additional
discussion of other possible military applications for an optical WPAN.
As computer-use propagates across the battlefield, the necessity to effectively integrate such system components
challenges the system developer to find a balance between added functionality and system usability. The most
significant challenge is ruggedizing and integrating these technologies in an acceptable manner that does not impede the
users' combat capability, but instead significantly enhances it . In this paper, researchers at the Air Force Research
Laboratory's Battlespace Acoustics Branch explored alternative Head Mounted Display (HMD) concepts, investigating
field of view as well as ease of use concerns. Special Operations personnel prosecute mission objectives in dynamic
environments requiring an agile integration solution that is equally accommodating. This report describes the research
process as well as the unique concerns and results of integrating tactical HMDs for special operation forces. Issues
involving variable use-cases, as well as cable management are also addressed.
The objective of this paper is to present the details surrounding the experimental design and flight test program used to
evaluate the performance of an Optical Head Tracker (OHT) under dynamic flight and intense solar conditions. This
program was a collaborative effort led by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in close concert with NASA-Glenn
Research Center (NGRC) based in Cleveland Ohio and contractors supporting the laboratory. The thrust of this paper
will focus on the experimental design necessary to effectively evaluate the OHT performance, as well as safety of flight
considerations necessary to satisfy both AFRL and NASA strict safety requirements. Discussions will include airborne
platform selection, modification, and operations necessary to achieve maximum solar exposure on the OHT while
ensuring a representative environment was presented to the OHT during the experiment.
Aviation helmets have always served as an interface between technology and flyers. The functional evolution of helmets continued with the advent of radio when helmets were modified to accept communication components and later, oxygen masks. As development matured, interest in safety increased as evident in more robust designs. Designing helmets became a balance between adding new capabilities and reducing the helmet's weight. As the research community better defined acceptable limits of weight-tolerances with tools such as the “Knox Box” criteria, system developers added and subtracted technologies while remaining within these limits. With most helmet-mounted technologies being independent of each other, the level of precision in mounting these technologies was not as significant a concern as it is today. The attachment of new components was acceptable as long as the components served their purpose. However this independent concept has become obsolete with the dawn of modern helmet mounted displays. These complex systems are interrelated and demand precision in their attachment to the helmet. The helmets' role now extends beyond serving as a means to mount the technologies to the head, but is now instrumental in critical visual alignment of complex night vision and missile cueing technologies. These new technologies demand a level of helmet fit and component alignment previously not seen in past helmet designs. This paper presents some of the design, integration and logistical issues gleaned during the development of the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) to include the application of head-track technologies in forensic investigations.