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Could Google Glass give the Air Force a window into the future?

By Ben Levine for Kapitall.

In April, the United States Air Force announced that it has begun testing Google’s (GOOGL) new eyewear Google Glass (released to the public for purchase in May) for use in military operations.

Currently, the Air Force uses other head-mounted display devices for certain missions. Some pilots use heads-up displays, as do pararescue jumpers, who use sighting technologies to spot rescue targets from long distances, high above the ground. 

Unfortunately, the existing technology produced by defense contractors is often bulky and clunky with a price tag of anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 apiece. Google Glass is smaller and sleeker, and much cheaper at a retail price of $1,500, but with much less durability than displays intended for military use. The Air Force’s Battlefield Air Targeting, Man-Aided Knowledge program (with the slightly tongue-in-cheek acronym BATMAN) has been investigating the degree to which Google Glass could be applied for uses already served by preexisting head-mounted display systems, as well as those not yet developed. 

Glass streamlined app functionality also sets it apart from military devices already in the field, which would allow developers access to relatively easy customization. For example, a firm called Tracking Point has already developed a Glass app allowing soldiers to shoot around corners and over obstacles without putting their bodies in harm’s way. Other reconnaissance and intelligence apps already exist on other platforms like Apple’s ( AAPL) iPhone, allowing soldiers on the ground to  access video feed from overhead drones.

Updates on the Air Force’s test results have yet to be released, but if the military were to sign a contract with Google, defense contractors supplying parts and software for head-mounted displays could see a hit in their market share—and share prices.

What do you think? Take a look at the list below and let us know your thoughts about who will create the super-soldiers of the future in the comments.

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