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DARPA to build 'needle-in-haystack' detector goggles

Not a figure of speech: That's the actual spec

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Radical Pentagon boffins have decided to build super high-tech binoculars or goggles which would - according to the government specifications - be able to identify and pick out "a needle moving along the surface of a haystack".

The planned technology has been dubbed Fine Detail Optical Surveillance (FDOS), and regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that it is one of the many troubled, rather disturbing yet occasionally freakishly brilliant brainchildren of rogue US military boffin bureau DARPA.

Apparently FDOS will be "a fundamentally new optical ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capability that can provide ultra high-resolution 3D images for rapid, in-field identification of a diverse set of targets". There will be "soldier portable applications" - eg binocular or goggle type form factors - as well as big rigs intended for mounting on flying spy robots and the like.

The Pentagon brainiacs, whose task in hunting down elusive malfeasants in faraway warzones is almost proverbially difficult, have decided that FDOS must be of suitable capability. According to a government notification issued last week:

The program can be described as developing the technology and systems analogous to that required for the rapid imaging and identification, without the need for scanning or focusing of the optical receiver, of a needle moving along the surface of a haystack, where the location and type of needle on the haystack is uncertain.

Presumably the Bottle-o-crisps Insanity Yardstick, Guilty-Pig-at-a-Barbecue lie detector and similar technologies are soon to follow. ®

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