What am I going to do with that? Anything (almost)

Previous Law Enforcement Technology articles have referenced science-fiction movies to help portray and establish the possibilities for the future: self-aware robots, half-man half-machine cops patrolling the streets of Detroit or British agents restoring balance in the world through the use of advanced covert technology.

Bringing to light a lesser-known acronym, HMD, or head-mounted display, the Golden-i headset places an officer’s computer and communications — to be exact — on his head. Who better to manipulate this technology than a leading manufacturer of commercial and military micro-displays.

Manufacturer of wireless power amplifiers used in cellular and mobile devices to the high definition (HD) micro-displays viewed in most digital cameras, camcorders and electronic eyewear and from Blackberries, to rifle scopes, Kopin is a company most of us have experienced, but never heard of. According to Jeffrey J. Jacobsen, Senior Advisor to the CEO at Kopin, the company has supplied the majority of micro-displays fielded in military hardware. These micro-displays are not drop tested repeatedly from three feet to a concrete floor, but are mounted on rifles and cannons receiving the concussion and recoil from repeated fire.

Brought to market by Motorola, Kopin’s Golden-i headset was introduced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. Golden-i began with the intention to build a tool that would allow access to any information a user might need, control their computer remotely, control other devices and networks at one time and — to top it all off — have a multiple language capability.

The construction and manufacturing industries showed initial interest in the Golden-i headset; however, the hands-free voice-activated headset has potential for law enforcement officers as well.

  • SWAT teams could access blueprints of a building after entering and mount a light, and HD video camera with near-IR sensitivity.
  • Video can help officers see in the dark, in fog, or smoky environments, including capturing and broadcasting video footage to team members and command. Additionally, videos can be accessed wirelessly — improving SWAT team members’ safety and improving the chances of a successful mission.
  • Officers have full patrol car data and communication resources available when dismounted and on foot. Specifically, they can remotely access the computer back in their squad car when on foot, to view suspect photos or other important situational information.
  • Officers on patrol, motorcycle, bicycle, foot, etc., can have the same information, graphical and tactical computer resources, video reception and streaming video broadcast resources available in-vehicle.
  • An on-board HD video camera can provide officers with passive/automatic facial recognition.
  • Detectives can instantaneously pull files on potential suspects, medical files, or other records that would allow them to quickly follow leads that could help solve a case.
  • Golden-i can passively monitor an officer’s health status, vital signs, and physical trauma. This information can be automatically broadcast to supervisors, command, and emergency response services. Teams of officers can know the status and circumstances of each officer on their team, on-demand.

With all the technology available for the police officer, the overall concept remains true: officer’s need information when they want it and when they need it, immediately. Jacobsen adds, “you want all the information you want, but you don’t want it in your way; it can’t block your normal line of sight or peripheral vision. Neither should audio information get in the way of normal situational hearing … officers want all their normal senses to be available.”

 The view just below

Golden-i was designed to position information for easy accessibility, yet not obstruct normal vision or situational awareness. Jacobsen explains there is a small space next to the user’s nose and slightly above the cheek about 1 inch tall and 1.5 inches wide that most people rarely use in their normal vision. He explains, “the reason you don’t use this space is that it’s easier if you want to look at your shoes to just bend your neck and look
down, rather than stand upright and roll your eyes down to see
your shoelaces.”

With a monocular headset, users can take advantage of this space for a near-eye display.

When one would look into Golden-i they would see a full 15-inch PC screen, virtually 18 inches from the user’s eye with SVGA (800 pixels by 600 pixels — the native resolution for Microsoft documents such as Word or Excel). At XGA resolution (1,024 pixels by 768 pixels) users see a full 18-inch PC screen virtually 18 inches from the user’s eye, while a 1,280 by 720 resolution displays a 26-inch image.

Combining one of these micro-displays with Golden-i’s six-axis solid state head motion tracking, allows the officer to connect to or open several display screens at one time, displaying virtually multiple full size documents, photographs or other graphical images in front of the officer. By slight head movement, the officer can look at each full size screen, one after the other as desired. Jacobsen relates this to connecting six or eight PC screens on the officer’s desk or the patrol car’s notebook PC. Users can
have and support as many screens as necessary.

If an officer would want to be quiet and avoid using Golden-i’s voice recognition interface, the head tracker can be turned into a mouse by command. The mouse cursor can be moved about the display screen by small head movement. The officer can make a simple head nod or other desired gesture to select a highlighted icon or item. Golden-i also has a small wireless mouse with a thumb joy stick, about the size of a roll of dimes.

Additionally Golden-i’s head tracking provides the officer spontaneous zoom-in and zoom-out with seamless magnified image look around. By merely moving his or her head an officer can see an entire highly magnified document or graphical image many times larger than any notebook or desktop computer screen. While a Volkswagen-sized dot shows the power of the display’s zoom, it’s not very practical. Zooming into a document, explains Jacobsen, looks more like standing next to a wall sized image and looking up and down, left and right. You can seamlessly see the entire page — Golden-i’s head tracking interprets what the user is looking for under any magnification.

This holds great potential in the viewing of multiple types of information at once. The headsets can place several magnified documents, images and a video in an officer’s immediate field of view, accessible by head movement or reduce every document, image or video into a single display screen.

“I’ve got this ability to have a full computer display when I’m highly mobile,” says Jacobsen.

 Speech and speaker

Kopin understood the need for Golden-i wearers to remain aware of their surroundings — especially the law enforcement user. The headset places its speaker slightly outside of the ear, yet it has been designed not to block natural peripheral hearing. Speaker volume can be raised by spoken command, or the system can monitor ambient noise and automatically increase speaker volume when necessary to overcome ambient noise.

The phased array, multiple microphone noise cancellation system is integrated into the optical pod, which floats just above the cheek and about an inch above the user’s mouth to the side of the nose.

Tested in the noisiest environments, well over 100 decibels with ambient noise from all directions, “[Golden-i] electronically extracts all the ambient noise from what a user is saying, so he can speak in a soft or normal tone of voice, even though the environment may be deafening,” says Jacobsen.

However “hearing” someone does not necessarily equate to “understanding” someone — nowhere is this more important than in speech recognition, a technology rife with errors, bad publicity and horror stories in training the software.

One of the hurdles Golden-i had to overcome was being able to recognize multiple versions of words spoken with regional
dialects and accents within the same language.

For example, in different parts of the United States the word khakis (pronounced kah-kees) can be used alternatively for slacks. While in another geographic area of the country, accents make the kah-kees sound resemble “car keys.”

Developers saw this as a fundamental problem; speech recognition software typically resembles barcode readers looking for precise pattern recognition.

Kopin developed a zeno-linguistic mutating algorithm, says Jacobsen, which provides approximately a 10,000-word vocabulary for each language Golden-i recognizes. Its speech recognition typically searches for 25 to 75 specific voice commands for a given computer screen. Golden-i listens to the user’s pronunciation of vowels, consonants and syllables comparing spoken commands with specific available screen commands. Since no two commands are identical, Golden-i selects the appropriate response requested and the mutating algorithm adjusts vocabulary with the users pronunciation.

Golden-i can presently speak and recognize English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Korean, and can switch by command. Other languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian will be added soon.

 What can be done

Golden-i has almost limitless potential in what it can do — truncated only to the innovation of software and technology.

By design Golden-i is a full PC with multiple wireless radios, six-axis head tracking, GPS and a digital compass. Miniaturized on-board accessories can be added, like a HD camera, laser rangefinders and more. It achieves its size and weight with high speed processing by leveraging the high performance systems, computers and wireless networks.

“All we sought to do was to augment and enhance people’s natural capabilities that makes them more efficient, more productive, improves their safety and leverages existing legacy systems and software efficiently” says Jacobsen.

Simply put, he adds, “there’s a lot to Golden-i and what it can be used for.”