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2/10/2006
11:32 AM
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Firm Touts 'Dick Tracy' Video Wristband

The three-inch, wristwatch-sized LCD screen attached to the wrist enables ground troops and pilots to view real-time video images taken by helicopters and drones.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Tadiran Communications has developed new communications technology that delivers video to a tiny receiver small enough to fit in a wristwatch. The first application is to develop a receiver for the Israeli army that would allow troops to see what's over the next hill.

The three-inch, wristwatch-sized LCD screen attached to the wrist enables ground troops and pilots to view real-time video images taken by helicopters and drones. The LCD screen displays color video that is beamed directly from drones at 30 frames per second. The system also includes small reception units installed on aircraft or carried in soldiers' vests.

Itzhak Beni, CEO of Tadiran Electronic Systems, said the system, called V-Rambo, gives soldiers an aerial view of the battlefield, which is particularly important in a dense urban landscape where troops may not have a clear line of sight.

"V-Rambo shortens the amount of time it takes to identify and strike a target," he claimed. "Before it was minutes, 10 to 12 minutes. Now it's a matter of seconds."

The Israeli military has been collecting video from unmanned vehicles for two decades, but imagery had to be sent to a central location where it was displayed on larger screens before it could be disseminated to the battlefield. Until recently, it wasn't feasible to send information directly to individual soldiers or units because the technology wasn't rugged enough for military use and cost too much. Overloading commanders with information was also a concern.

Now the technology is affordable—about $50,000 for a full system that includes a receiver, transmitter and battery.

"Instead of coordinating by voice with a central command, soldiers can see behind the hill and around the corner," Beni said. "Reducing the size of the receiver—and ultimately the transmitter—down to the size of a wristwatch was the major challenge in developing the technology."

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