When downed U.S. helicopters in Somalia led to a fierce urban battle for U.S. soldiers in 1993, it prompted the development of a new computer-enabled tool by the Office of Naval Research. This tool doesn't fire rockets, it just tells the soldiers where they are and then augments their view with an overlay of images fed through computer-enabled goggles. If, for example, soldiers become lost in an urban area, a global positioning system provides coordinates to a computer that provides a map and directions for escape routes. "Being able to look at stuff and seeing information in context with that stuff is what it's all about," says Steven Feiner, a Columbia University professor of computer science that is helping develop the tool. For more information, call (212) 854-1754 or visit www.columbia.edu.
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