The U.S. Navy wants to enforce radio silence with hands-free augmented reality goggles that allow sailors to see radio waves emitted from mobile phones or other devices.
Designed by researchers at the Naval Information Warfare Center’s Atlantic Division, the Spectrum Hunter is a radio frequency emission detection and localization device that users wear like goggles. The U.S. patent application for the Spectrum Hunter was made public on Thursday (linked below).
Spectrum Hunter would replace the 10-pound tablet and a handheld wand Navy personnel currently use to find and shut down their own transmitters, e.g. mobile phones, which is an operational security task known as “own force monitoring,” but other applications like maintenance and threat detection are envisioned.
“The Spectrum Hunter system under development is hands-free. As the user packs a similar-but-smaller geolocator receiver in a backpack and wears a headset inside a helmet that allows them to ‘see’ images of RF waves on an augmented reality screen superimposed over heavy sunglasses,” said Jessica Sinclair, the Spectrum Hunter’s lead inventor. “The helmet is fitted with a sunshade so the equipment operates outdoors.”
“Our team is initially focusing on detecting handheld radios and will expand the scope later to detect cell phones and other devices,” Sinclair said. “In the future, we plan to modify it to identify RF waves emitting from enemy forces.”
The Navy developed a Spectrum Hunter prototype in 2019 and was tested by sailors and Marines.