This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

The combination of advanced communications capabilities with heads up displays will enhance US combatants. The Army has granted a $3.9M order to Silvus Technologies for the supply of tactical Mobile Ad Hoc (MANET) radios in support of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program.

IVAS utilizes an Augmented Reality (AR) Heads Up Display (HUD) goggle to provide soldiers with situational awareness while allowing their eyes to remain focused on the battlefield. IVAS displays the location of all friendly troops in the area, regardless of obstacles, as well as opposing forces. Users can tag locations and drop markers, for example to note a possible IED location or rendezvous point. Anyone with goggles can see everything in their area just by turning their head.

Critical to the success of the program is a high performance, low size/weight/power (SWaP) tactical radio network that allows soldiers to share information wirelessly in real time and in dynamic, unpredictable circumstances.

Adding communications and sharing data takes IVAS to another level: a multiplayer team game rather than single player. MANET is a peer-to-peer network with no central control.

If a soldier loses signal while going into a building or tunnel, they connect seamlessly as soon as they get back in range. The MANET topology also means that a soldier only needs to be in communication with the next soldier to connect to the entire network.

What distinguishes Silvus Technologies’ offering from some other MANETs is that theirs was built from the ground up to be used in a challenging, military-type environment of constant interference, rather than a benign civilian one.

MANETs in general work well for small number of communication nodes but run into trouble with larger numbers as the volume of traffic needed to maintain the network grows geometrically with number of users. Silvus have solved this challenge, and their IVAS system connects 140 soldiers at once instead of only 50, as well as accepting external data feeds. Moreover, they have achieved this with constrained radio bandwidth, according to forbes.com.