Hawaii Technology Could Save Troops' Lives

Luke Joseph
Luke Joseph

HONOLULU (KHNL) - New technology developed by a Hawaii company could help save the lives of troops battling in Iraq. It can sense a potential enemy in hiding or it can locate an injured soldier in the field from a far off distance. It is called SWARM, which stands for "Sense Through the Wall Adaptive Mesh". Think of it as a spider web.

Oceanit Design Engineer Luke Joseph helped create it. "The technology works similar manor to your cell phone it transmits a radio frequency transmission and that goes through the walls just like your cell phones will work inside of a building and once it goes through the walls it can bounce off of someone who is moving inside the building", Joseph explained.

As our KHNL News 8 photographer moves through the room with his video camera, through his lens it appears to be empty. However, the SWARM computer shows a flash on its screen. It shows someone is hiding. It can sense something as quiet as a heart beat.

"This system can see through various types of material it can see through brick it can see through concrete it can see through wood", he said.

The proto type SWARM detection device is about the size of a small cigar box, but engineers hope to get it down to the size of a domino. For example, a military helicopter could drop dozens of the small domino sized sensors on a building in the war zone. "SWARM" then relays what those little domino transmitters sense. It could tell troops whether anyone is hiding in the area. It scopes the building inside and out, without having to send in soldiers.

It can also be used in medical and emergency situations. "There are also applications with disaster recovery, and situations where a building might have collapsed and you want to sense if there is anyone in the rubble. So, this system would be well suited for that type of application", Joseph said.  The SWARM can sense the difference between small animals, rodents and humans so there is no mistaking the enemy.

For this local design engineer, it's more than just being proud of developing something in Hawaii. He says it's about saving lives.

Oceanit plans to test the technology soon in coordination with the U.S. Military in Hawaii. For more information on Oceanit, the company that developed SWARM, go to www.oceanit.com