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Amazing Toys that Actually Wind up in Warfare

January 22, 2009 | 36,945 views

In this video, Ralph Osterhout describes the "perverse symbiotic relationship" between the children's toy industry and military innovation.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

As a technology enthusiast, the unlikely relationship between the toy industry and the military really sparked my interest, but upon further inspection the relationship makes perfect sense.

Both industries demand some of the latest, most cutting-edge technology, so it would be a waste of ingenuity to not borrow from one another. And in the case of Ralph Osterhout, he’s already experienced in both worlds. His company, Osterhout Design Group, has created an eclectic mix of products like:

• Power Penz Transforming Pens: Ball-point pens that transform into dart games, flying helicopters, invisible ink writers, telescopes, laser tag guns and IR wireless walk-talkies.

• Radical Air Weapons: A foam ball launcher that shoots foam balls that expand to four times the size of the barrel as they exit.

• Quick-Notes: Credit-card sized recording devices that record up to 40 minutes of audio.

• Tactibot Wireless Robot & 5-Axis Robotic Arm: A network-controlled robot designed to remotely inspect IEDs and disarm them with carefully positioned shape-charged explosives.

• Handheld Facial and Iris Recognition Computer: A handheld computer that contains a GPS receiver, Mesh Network, encrypted tactical radio and sensors for facial and iris recognition. It allows the user to capture still images or video of a Person of Interest and compare it against stored or remote databases of faces and irises.

It’s amazing how some of the same technologies that kids and adults find entertaining are now being used on the battlefield, and to a large degree vice versa.

What’s on the Agenda for New Military and Toy Gadgets?

It’s astonishing how fast technologies are being developed and becoming outdated, and you can bet the military is no stranger to the practical application of Moore's Law -- a popular axiom that predicts the doubling of the number of transistors per integrated circuit every 18 months, coined by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965.

The U.S. Army is underway with its $160-billion Future Combat Systems (FCS) initiative -- estimated to be the most expensive military project in U.S. history. The focus is largely on overhauling computer and software technology to produce greatly enhanced warfare apparatus, including utility robots that can be used for reconnaissance, delivery of supplies and equipment and security.

One such product is the unattended ground sensor, which looks like one of the many droids you've seen in Star Wars. It may be left behind to guard a perimeter, spot a target or detect chemical or radioactive materials.

The Army hopes to have large numbers of robots and miniature aerial drones -- designed for use in crowded urban areas -- out to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by late 2010. The U.S. Army also recently awarded a five-year, $4-million contract to a coalition of scientists from the University of California at Irvine, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland to develop “thought helmets.”

The helmets would ultimately be used to capture soldiers’ brainwaves and then translate them into radio waves that could be heard by other troops. The idea is to have a silent form of communication that could be used among soldiers on the battlefield.

Only your imagination can dream up what types of children’s toys or adult high-tech gadgets could one day be created out of these new technologies, but I suspect they will be worth keeping an eye out for.

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