Augmented-reality scheme aims to fight terrorism

The Home Office's Instinct programme has called for augmented-reality technologies that can be used in covert and overt operations to counter terrorism

The Home Office is looking for augmented-reality technology that can be adapted for use by British security and police forces to fight terrorism.

The Technology Demonstrator 3 (TD3) project is inviting UK companies to submit ideas on how their augmented-reality products could be used on the front line by military and law enforcement agencies, IT services provider Logica said in a launch announcement on Thursday. Individuals and academic institutions can also apply.

The scheme is run by the Innovative Science and Technology In Counter-Terrorism (Instinct) programme, which is part of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism. Ideas will be assessed and then shortlisted to take part in a January demonstration before law enforcement agencies and the Home Office, according to Logica, which is overseeing the selection process.

"Consumers associate augmented reality with locating the closest tube station on their smartphones. TD3 aims to demonstrate that [augmented reality] has a much wider use and can be used to support security and counter-terrorism efforts in the UK," said Julian Cracknell, director of security at Logica UK, in a statement.

Augmented-reality technology puts a layer of computer-generated content over a view of a physical environment, providing information on what is in that live environment. For example, a consumer application such as Layar allows users to point a mobile phone at a famous building and receive details such as its name and history.

In addition, the technology has been used for business purposes and by the military in applications such as head-up displays in fighter planes. These are clear screens in front of the windscreen that display navigational and other data.

The TD3 project is looking for augmented-reality ideas for a variety of situations, according to Cracknell.

"We've got a set of different scenarios, ranging from covert intelligence-gathering applications to overt action investigating after events have happened, to protect critical national infrastructure," Cracknell told ZDNet UK.

In general, however, technology that makes it through the evaluation and selection process will be used by the police for counter-terrorism, he said.

The selection process will include live trials of technology in rural, urban and highly industrialised areas, he added. Cracknell said that about 30 ideas or products will appear in the showcase, with some going on to an 'enduring capability' facility, where they will undergo more stringent experiments.

A TD3 website has been set up for any interested individual or organisation to send in their ideas or products, with a deadline of 23 November for submissions.

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