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US Military Deploys Personal Gunshot Detectors 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the shooter-games-just-got-less-unrealistic dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "A new warfighting technology will soon be making its way to Afghanistan. US Army forces will be getting gunshot detection systems, which can tell where a shot was fired from. Approximately 13,000 gunshot detection systems will be given to individual footsoldiers later this month, according to the US Army. The system, called Individual Gunshot Detector, has four small acoustic sensors and a small display screen attached to the soldier's body armor that shows the distance and direction of incoming bullets. The sensors are each about the size of a deck of cards and can detect the supersonic sound waves generated by enemy gunfire. It alerts the soldier of the shot's direction in less than one second."
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US Military Deploys Personal Gunshot Detectors

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  • Didn't they have this sort of thing in Deus Ex?
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh&gmail,com> on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:45PM (#35534208) Journal

      I immediately thought of the "red glow of pain" that most modern FPSes have to help you figure out where you're being shot from.

    • Pretty sure I saw a thing on TV in the early 90's demonstrating a video-based device that could be used to track gunshots. It could even predict where the bullet would hit before it got there.

      In this case, Id say fiction copied non-fiction.

    • by matrim99 (123693)
      WTF, U.S.A.? You nerf the snipers, but do nothing about the tanks, helicopters, planes, and missiles, which are waaaaay more OP.

      Now I gotta re-roll a new soldier for the next 250,000-man raid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:38PM (#35534084)

    13,000 gunshot detection systems will be given to individual footsoldiers...

    Oh give me a break! How is each soldier going to carry 13,000 gunshot detection systems? Isn't one enough?

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh&gmail,com> on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:50PM (#35534294) Journal

      Sup dawg, I heard you like gunshot detectors, so I put 12,999 gunshot detectors in your gunshot detector so you can detect shots while you detect shots while you detect shots while you detect shots whi [FIELD TRUNCATED]

    • by microbee (682094) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:16PM (#35534672)

      I think you misunderstood. Get a clue, there is only one detector!

      What the system does is that it detects if someone fires 13,000 gunshots at you.

      • by hey! (33014)

        I think you misunderstood...What the system does is that it detects if someone fires 13,000 gunshots at you.

        But only if that person shooting has something against you in particular. If he's thinking something like "I'm sick of carrying this damn ammo, I may as well shoot it at that guy over there," the system won't register.

        It'll help us figure out whether we're winning hearts and minds by deducting all the shots taken at us for *personal* reasons from the ones taken at us because the shooter hates *all* Americans.

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        TRINITY: Dodge this, Agent Smith!

  • fireworks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by memnock (466995) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:38PM (#35534088)

    Would they foil this? They're loud. But don't move at the speed of sound.

    • I doubt it (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      With experience, one can not only learn to distinguish gunfire from vaguely gunfire-like sounds (fireworks, backfiring cars and so forth), but get a pretty good approximation of the type of weapon being fired - sometimes even down to specific models. If a human ear can learn to make such fine distinctions then surely a purpose-built sensor can do at least as well.

      • Not necessarily, there are entire fields dedicated to creating sound analysis systems that don't even come close to the human ear - brain counterpart. For example, detecting beats in music, or recognizing syllables in speech.
    • by wjousts (1529427)
      And what would be the point of throwing a firework at and enemy soldier versus a bullet?
      • by cobrausn (1915176)
        To throw off their gunshot detectors and prep them for an ambush from another direction.
        • If it was an "ambush" you would probably try to have them surrounded anyway. And it takes how long to pivot 180 degrees? I know everyone wants to be the analytical spoilsport and think "how can we make this fail" but honestly making it fail is just not even a big deal. It's only even going to be a fraction of the soldiers who have these devices, so you are at best you are temporarily fooling one guy in the group you are attacking. I imagine the primary use of this is that, if bullets start flying and y

          • Re:fireworks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by c6gunner (950153) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#35534916)

            I imagine the primary use of this is that, if bullets start flying and you take cover, you will be able to figure out where to return fire (or send backup, etc.) without needing to pop your head out first.

            That's more or less right. If the bullets are flying in large quantities it's generally not hard to figure out where they're coming from, but if you've got one or two snipers taking potshots at your platoon, it can be quite difficult to find them. In those cases, the traditional method for locating the shooter involves the section/squad commander yelling "charlie team, take a bound!". This seems much safer.

            • <quote><p>That's more or less right. If the bullets are flying in large quantities it's generally not hard to figure out where they're coming from, but if you've got one or two snipers taking potshots at your platoon, it can be quite difficult to find them. In those cases, the traditional method for locating the shooter involves the section/squad commander yelling "charlie team, take a bound!". This seems much safer.</p></quote>

              Is that officers have an even safer and smarter way o
        • by Arccot (1115809)

          To throw off their gunshot detectors and prep them for an ambush from another direction.

          Or you can skip the fireworks and just shoot at them from two directions.

          • by cobrausn (1915176)

            Or you can skip the fireworks and just shoot at them from two directions.

            See above reply to Posting=!Working. Not if you only have enough fighters to cover a single direction.

    • Would they foil this? They're loud. But don't move at the speed of sound.

      From TFA, "The sensors are each about the size of a deck of cards and can detect the supersonic sound waves generated by enemy gunfire."

      So what happens if they use sub-sonic rounds? They are use by the military, typically special forces, as they are rather quite. I'm sure you can find plenty of info on the net about how to make them at home even.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Regular soldiers/insurgents/whatever are probably not going to use subsonic ammo if they have a choice, especially because the body armor and helmets worn these days do pretty well against them - they are intended to protect from shrapnel and rifle rounds!

    • Considering that the detectors are working using the sounds generated by the bullet exceeding the speed of sound and not by tracking the sound of the bullet being fired, it is doubtful that fireworks would in any way interfere with these detectors.
  • by snookerhog (1835110) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:39PM (#35534094)
    if it is really detecting supersonic sound waves, it needs to be re-calibrated methinks...
    • by cyn1c77 (928549)

      if it is really detecting supersonic sound waves, it needs to be re-calibrated methinks...

      Why? Are you not familiar with the concept of a shock wave?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Whoosh!

        (which is sonic)

        ((if it were supersonic, it wouldn't be sound))

      • by lgw (121541)

        Shock waves are never supersonic for long - they can start out that way given enough energy, but they pile up at a sped-of-sound-in-material expanding interface really quickly.

        I suspect these sensors use the sonic boom made by a travelling bullet to locate the gun in some fashion, as opposed to the sound the exploding powder makes inside the gun - either of which could be termed the sound of a gunshot, but it's usually the sonic boom from the bullet that you hear.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Only at ranges where the muzzle report has died out before it reaches you. But in all cases, you'll hear the shockfront from the bullet before the muzzle report.

          Though, the bullet still hits the mark before you hear anything. Better make those shots count, Tewwowwists!

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:43PM (#35534156)

    "...The system, called Individual Gunshot Detector...

    Really? All kinds of kick-ass program names and acronyms in the Military's arsenal of weapon nomenclature, and the best you could do was..."Individual Gunshot Detector"? Sheesh.

    I guess there is one benefit to that generic name...I'll reserve the right to slap the shit out of anyone that asks the question "what does it do?"

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh&gmail,com> on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:55PM (#35534374) Journal

      4-directional Sonic Input Gunshot Heading Triangulator

      4SIGHT

      It's a sad day when the military can't come up with a good backronym.

      • Hey if you guys like that name you can have it in exchange for a tour of Area 51,* I promise I won't tell! :D

        *OK, I know that's not gonna happen...I'll settle for Pine Gap.

      • Or (Score:5, Funny)

        by Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:39PM (#35535014) Homepage Journal

        4way Sonic Kinetic Inference Notifier

    • .I'll reserve the right to slap the shit out of anyone that asks the question "what does it do?"

      Be careful. The kind of idiot that needs a gadget to tell him he's been shot might very well take you up on that.

    • and the best you could do was..."Individual Gunshot Detector"

      And what's even weirder is that the acronym that TFA attaches to that is IDG.

      LOL, IDK, shouldn't it be IGD?

      • and the best you could do was..."Individual Gunshot Detector"

        And what's even weirder is that the acronym that TFA attaches to that is IDG.

        LOL, IDK, shouldn't it be IGD?

        Assuming its not a typo there actually is logic for IDG. Military nomenclature likes a noun,adjective type of format. Consider:
        Individual Detector, Gunshot
        Individual Detector, Explosion
        Individual Detector, Radiation
        Individual Detector, Chemical
        Seeing something labeled IDx would then suggest its basic function of individual detector.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Ok, ok. Lets call it the 'iBang'.

  • If it works, great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sarbonn (1796548) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:43PM (#35534162) Homepage Journal
    If this saves any lives, then I'm all for it. I just hope it's not another makeshift technology that some company designed to make money but doesn't actually do anything useful but make rich people richer at the expense of American soldiers.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I actually saw this initially as a larger bit of technology on Discovery a couple of years ago. It could triangulate and range gun-shots pretty damned well.

      I suspect this is the same thing but evolved a bit and scaled down to be portable.

      Given what it purports to do, I suspect it's pretty easy to verify ... Shoot various guns at various ranges, and see if several people spread out over a distance can all point to the source. I should think that would be something the army could set up in an extremely shor

      • Bonus points if you can use triangulation from multiple people to feed back to Predator/Global Hawk drones that can be directed autonomously to the predicted location of the sniper/gunmen is. You'll still want an Air Force office confirming before firing, but you can automate the fark out of this.

        • by Danse (1026)

          Bonus points if you can use triangulation from multiple people to feed back to Predator/Global Hawk drones that can be directed autonomously to the predicted location of the sniper/gunmen is. You'll still want an Air Force office confirming before firing, but you can automate the fark out of this.

          I don't think Global Hawks carry any armament. They can provide intelligence to direct fire from other sources though. Reapers are generally the heavy hitters of the unmanned variety.

          • Correct. It all depends on what equipment you have in theater. If all you have is a Global Hawk, you send it to provide information back to ground forces. If you have a Reaper, well, the problem is that much easier to solve.

    • If this saves any lives, then I'm all for it.

      It's certain this won't save the lives of any Afghans or Iraqis, whether the bullets are coming from a helicopter a mile away or a soldier that just kicked in his front door.

      • by demonbug (309515) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:57PM (#35535272) Journal

        If this saves any lives, then I'm all for it.

        It's certain this won't save the lives of any Afghans or Iraqis, whether the bullets are coming from a helicopter a mile away or a soldier that just kicked in his front door.

        It might, actually. If the American soldiers are better able to determine where they are being shot at from, there is less likelihood of them shooting back at the wrong place. It should, to some extent, reduce "collateral damage".

        Of course, I have my doubts about the usefulness in an urban environment (where it would have the most positive effect for reducing collateral damage), where I would think the complicated environment (lots of echoes) would confuse such a device. Maybe they get around that by concentrating on these wondrous sound waves that move faster than the speed of sound.

  • If a sniper has a clear shot and takes a person out, well, that target will be dead before the sound waves reach the device. But at least the rest of the squad would know where the shot came from and respond accordingly.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:46PM (#35534216)

      Which is the point, right now without gunshot senors the unit is pinned down trying to determine the location of the sniper.

      They've been using them in police and military applications for over ten years.

      And yea, fireworks don't spoof them

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfire_locator [wikipedia.org]

      • by lwsimon (724555)

        I've maintained for a long time that these are not the best idea.

        If I wanted to commit a robbery on the West end of town, I'd have a bunch of guys go through the East side and dump a few magazines, then drive off. The police would be dispatched there and busy trying to figure out what happened while the real crime was happening on the other end of town.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Wyatt Earp (1029)

          Thats why most police departments have more than one police station and more than one cop car.

          Even during the North LA bank robbery, not every cop in the LAPD was dispatched there.

          For your example - guys on the East Side fire off a bunch of rounds, car(s) are dispatched for shots fired calls, they don't see bloody corpses in the streets, they call it back in as responded too and go on to the next call.

          West End of town, alarms go off and the police over there still respond.

          • by lwsimon (724555)

            I obviously don't mean *all* of the police force - but a large portion, surely, if it was enough gunfire.

      • by radtea (464814)

        I've been surprised that these things haven't been seen more commonly until now, particularly for battlefield deployment where they would be really useful. I debated doing development on them myself--the algorithms are very much like particle-location algorithms used in large cherenkov detectrors like Kamiokande and SNO--but really prefer to focus my time on economically productive activity.

        As military tech goes, though, this is fairly nice: it only endangers people who have already started shooting, and

  • just wondering (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What about subsonic rounds? subsonic rounds + silencer = near invisible sniper.

    • Subsonic rounds have lower penetration and range. Suppressors decrease this further. So the sniper has to get in closer, at which point s/he runs the risk of being spotted while en route. If I were the sniper, I'd rather go with "loud and clear, huh?", but usable from far, far away.

      • First world snipers generally use guns that redirect the sound and flash, so the targets can hear it, but it is very hard to locate specifically.

        The snipers shooting at first world armies generally use whatever hand-me-down battle rifle they happen to have, at a range that tries to be "just outside of what an M4 is comfortable with."

        • by PPH (736903)
          The muzzle blast my be difficult to detect, but there's not much that can be done to suppress the supersonic shock wave. Even a round from a theoretically perfectly silenced weapon will make a 'crack' as it goes by.
    • by lwsimon (724555)

      With very limited range, and little to no ability to penetrate modern body armor.

      And there are radar systems in place on Strykers and emplaced that do the same thing, without relying on the sonic crack.

  • was a personal gunshot detector.
    • by DikSeaCup (767041)
      Do a little reading - you might be surprised at how often people get shot and don't realize it right away.
  • Yeah, it's called a Central Nervous System.

    "Ow! I've been shot!" :)

  • New term for a direct headshot from the direction the soldier is facing: "he got up-arrowed."
  • by netrangerrr (455862) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:13PM (#35534630) Homepage
    Its called the Soldier Wearable Acoustic Targeting System (SWATS) - and as a former Army Ranger (and a current QinetiQ employee) - I can tell you its a very cool and useful item. Bullets can whiz by you without you knowing where they came from. This little device at least gives you an estimate based on the sonic shockwave and gives you a heads up as to where a shooter might be. Not super high-tech, but super-useful if you're being shot at.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      At the very least, I should think knowing what you might be able to take cover behind would come in handy.

      At, least until you can decide how to respond more decisively.

      (Of, course, like most Slashdotters, I'll just stop at the taking cover phase and leave the actual soldiering to people like you ... I think it's safe to say most people reading here would not be very useful in a firefight, no matter how many video games they've played. ;-)

  • The last I heard of these things, they were big, vehicle-mounted jobs that were next to useless in anything but flat, empty terrain.

    Of course, it remains to be seen if this iteration is of any use either, or if minor quibbles like echoes from buildings and gully walls are still rendering them expensive porkbarrel fodder.

    • by afidel (530433)
      Boomerang is the vehicle mounted system and it works very well in urban environments according to both army testing and in field after action reports, the first and second generation units were not perfect but were effective with the third generation being the widely deployed version. They're also fairly inexpensive, the fixed price contact (not cost plus) was under $9,100 per unit. I would guess that this system will be less effective due to the fact that the microphones won't be nearly as good and the fac
  • From an individual device, you can only get a rough direction. But with timestamped events from multiple locations, you can get the actual location of the target. That's much more useful. You can transmit the target coordinates to artillery.

    A gun-location app for a smartphone is quite possible. There's a microphone, a GPS, compute power, and comm.

  • I think you will find prior art in the original Journey of the Center of the Earth movie with the echo direction locator they carried.

    Now we know that this device will fall into enemy hands. What is the risk if our enemy has this same device? Maybe they should also develop a ventriquist barrel attachment to make the sound seem to come from one of the enemy positions. They can probably get a good design from some of the hackers that do IP masquerading

  • this should work great with friendly fire
  • I hope these things network together. Because (unfortunately) the person who's sensor initially detects the shot may no longer be around to do anything about it. Other members of the patrol need to know the source.

  • Hudson: Movement. Signal's clean. Range, 20 meters.
    Ripley: They've found a way in, something we've missed.
    Hicks: We didn't miss anything.
    Hudson: 17 meters.
    Ripley: [Checking the tracker] Something in the floor, underneath the plant, I don't know
    Hudson: 15 Meters.
    Newt: Ripley.
    Hicks: Definitely inside the barricades.
    Newt: Let's go.
    Hudson: 12 meters.
    Ripley: That's right outside the door. Hicks, Vasquez get back.
    Hudson: Man, this is a big fuckin' signal.
    Hicks: How are we doing Vasquez, talk to me?
    Vasquez: Almost

  • They had that in Ghost Recon.

    http://gamestyle.com/media/images/games/screenshots/large/xbox-ghostrecon-100710-05.jpg [gamestyle.com]

    Seemed goofy at the time, but a good solution for a video game. Now it's real? Awesome :)

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