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Holy Smokes! BATMAN Tests Google Glass for the U.S. Military

BATMAN is working for the U.S. Air Force and could make Google Glass a regular wartime accessory.

No, Bruce Wayne has not enlisted. BATMAN stands for Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided (K)nowledge, a research program based at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Its overarching goal is to make U.S. soldiers a little more like superheroes.

“It was commissioned to build advanced wearable technologies in a wearable ensemble, so in essence, we are building a Batman suit to improve effectiveness in the battlefield,” Gregory Burnett, chief engineer for BATMAN, told NBC News.

His 13-man team is focusing on Google Glass. They purchased two pairs of the wearable computer through the Glass Explorer program, just like a civilian would, and have been researching the potential and pitfalls of the technology since last May.

Why does the U.S. Air Force need Google Glass?

The military branch’s Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) are often the first medical workers to attend to injured soldiers, Andres Calvo, a software development engineer with BATMAN, told NBC News.

Keeping track of multiple patients in the field is tough. Google Glass, paired with Android smartphones and tablets, could be used to help PJs treat minor injuries while keeping an eye on the vitals of patients in critical condition, Calvo said.

Another potential scenario: Soldiers on the ground could get live video feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones), giving them a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield while on the ground.

Before Google Glass sees action, BATMAN needs to make sure that soldiers are not distracted by their displays while doing things like walking and driving.

The research is being shared with other military research teams, with the goal of creating an "integrated heads-up augmented reality" system that members of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Army could all use.

The military is looking to "aggressively push it out on the field," Burnett said, meaning it probably won't be too long until U.S. soldiers are sporting high-tech specs.