The Dutch Army has received mission navigation belts to give soldiers navigation guidance whilst freeing up their hands, eyes and ears.
The company Elitac Wearables has announced that it has delivered the first order of mission navigation belts (MNBs) to the Royal Netherlands Army. It explains that the MNB allows soldiers to feel waypoint navigation directions through small, quiet vibration motors located in a lightweight belt worn around the waist.
Elitac explains that traditional navigation compromises situational awareness, because it requires soldiers to take their focus away from their surroundings to check screens or maps, or listen to audio instructions. The MNB solves this problem by conveying navigation cues through haptic feedback and the under-utilised sense of touch - freeing up individuals’ hands, eyes and ears to concentrate on their surroundings.
The MNB was developed in close collaboration with the Netherlands MoD; a spokesman explains ‘Modern soldiers have access to incredible, hi-tech navigation systems, but these all require soldiers to keep checking their screens constantly. This makes an already dangerous job even more dangerous because it reduces situational awareness.’
‘It has proved its value convincingly during field tests: Soldiers reported that they were more aware of their surroundings and found the navigational cues very intuitive. And because it plugs into our own soldier system, there is no learning curve or need for an additional battery. We look forward to implementing this order of belts and investigating other possible applications of the MNB.’
The MNB can be used to navigate on foot and in vehicles both on land and water - users can change seamlessly from one mode of transportation to another without stopping to navigate.