"He plays fast forward for as long as he can. But he won't need a bed--He's a digital man." This lyric from "Digital Man" by the Canadian band Rush refers to societal changes brought on by the digital age. It also could apply to the digital-soldier model being developed by the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command's (SSCOM) Modeling, Simulation and Analysis Center (MSAC). The program recently received Phase II status from the Small Business Innovative Research project on virtual prototyping. The object: to design "an automated system that will allow designers of clothing, equipment, weapons, protection (systems),shelters, and workplaces to explore proposed designs and how they affect user performance, survivability, and behavior in realistic operational (battlefield) settings." Unlike pastArmy endeavors, however, the program would not require that the items be physically constructed prior to evaluation and testing. The plan would result in a "digital human model suitable for virtual prototyping of protective equipment and as a character (computerized representation of the human form) in a virtual environment." Software to permit such activity includes the Integrated Unit Simulation System, which allows for high-resolution analytic simulation and the insertion of proposed technologies in larger scenarios prior to investing in actual constructed prototypes. FAX (508) 233-5390.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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