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Army Surgeons to Get Augmented Reality Support in the Field

Military surgeons will soon be getting augmented reality (AR) support in the field, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today launching a new contract for the cutting edge tech.

The “digital platform” sought will let military medical teams “visualise annotations or directions overlaid onto the real-time surgical field by the advising surgeon”.

The MoD has some particular requirements for the platform, but a limited budget: it is setting aside between £1 million-£1.4 million, a notice published today shows.

The kit’s network needs to be encrypted, easily replaceable, and supporting hardware needs to be commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), the MoD said. The two-year contract notice does not detail the number of anticipated end-users.

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It comes amid a flurry of new AR headset launches, including from Lenovo and from Google, which last week unveiled a keenly priced new enterprise version of its Google Glass, aimed at commercial users and retailing for $999.

Army Augmented Reality Platform:  Contract Notice Reveals Specific Requirements

“[The MoD seeks a] digital platform that enables real-time telemedicine support to deployed surgical teams, from Defence specialists in the UK, utilising military communication networks and bearers and optimally, cloud connected personal electronic devices”, a contract noticed posted on a public tenders page shows.

army augmented realityIt adds: “This platform will allow (24/7) real-time visual and audio interaction between an internationally stationed surgical team within a tented/hard standing/afloat hospital and UK specialists… utilising mixed or augmented reality.”

The MoD has some specific requirements for the platform: “The digital platform should not require specialist hardware, any IT/ AV equipment should be Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) and readily integrate-able/replaceable”, the notice reveals.

“Specialist network hardware will be provided by the Authority and will integrate with existing communication systems/bearers.”

Must Be Able to Fall Back on Two-Way Audio 

The army augmented reality platform’s bandwidth requirements are not to exceed 2 Mbps, the MoD notes. The figure seems ample: Microsoft’s HoloLens headset sets a recommended bandwidth “for optimal performance of Remote Assist” of 1.5 MB/s.

Critically, however, the product must be able to operate (without service interruption) with a data packet delay of 600 milliseconds (ms) Round Trip Time (RTT), simple and easy to re-boot in the case of total power failure to the supporting hardware and, optimally, be able to fall back on 2-way audio when bandwidth is overly contested, with data encrypted at source, in transit and in storage, the MoD notes.

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This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.