Wonderful Engineering

New Technology Uses Soldier Smartphones To Determine Enemy Position

Battlefields are not calm; they are noisy with weapons being fired, and this poses a problem for the soldiers who are present on the battlefield. If the soldiers wear in-ear earphones for the protection of their hearing; they can’t really be sure about where the gunfire is coming from and if they don’t wear it; they are causing damage to their hearing because of the loud noises. The in-ear earphones are known as Tactical Communication and Protective Systems (TCAPS). A brand new smartphone-based tech has been designed to help the soldiers in determining where the enemy shots are originating from.

The TCAPS earphones generally make use of small microphones that are located on the interior and the exterior of the soldier’s ear canals. These mics enable the soldiers to hear the voices of their comrades but electronically filter the loud noises including the firing of the user’s own weapon to impart protection to the hearing.

There is a catch; however; the Tactical Communication and Protective Systems compromise the situational awareness of the soldier since they make it quite difficult for the soldiers to determine where the enemy shots are coming from. For the uninitiated, this is a crucial piece of information on the battlefield since it enables the soldiers to know where to lay down the fire and also helps them in taking potentially safe cover.

This is the problem that has been countered with a smartphone-based tech that comes from the French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis. This particular smartphone-based tech is based on the fact that modern weapons create two waves upon firing; the initial supersonic shock wave that makes its way in a cone shape ahead of the bullet and the muzzle wave that radiates spherically from the firearm.

The smartphone-based tech makes use of the mics inside the ear canals to measure the time difference between these two waves when they arrive at the ear of the solider. This data is then sent to the app via Bluetooth. The smartphone-based tech then used an algorithm for ascertaining the direction of the fire and thus the position of the assailant.

Lead scientist Sébastien Hengy, said, ‘If it’s a smartphone with a good processor, the computation time to get the complete trajectory is about half a second.’ The smartphone-based tech has been field-tested using TCAPS mics that were placed about head-distance apart. However, there are plans of testing it on an artificial head sometime later this year. We might be seeing this smartphone-based tech in action in 2021.