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Hey! Who doesn’t love to play games on their PlayStations or Xboxes? Well, now there are a few more reasons to be proud of that thing between your legs… uhhh, if that’s where you put your gaming consoles, that is. Here are 10 very impressive uses for them or their components that go well beyond gaming.
1. The U.S. Air Force now owns one of the largest supercomputers in the world, which is comprised of 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3s. That’s a LOT of PS3s. And get this… the “Condor Cluster,” as it’s called, is capable of performing 500 trillion (that’s a T-R-illion) operations per second, making it the Defense Department’s fastest interactive computer by far. It will help the Air Force with radar enhancement, pattern recognition, satellite imagery processing and artificial intelligence research.
2. Microsoft’s Kinect controllers have been shipped to the border between North and South Korea to aid in security measures. South Korean code writers have reprogrammed the Kinects to differentiate between human and animal movement to let them know what they’re up against. An Xbox controller is being used by the U.S. Army to control lasers to shot down unmanned drones and even destroy in-flight mortar shells. Also, the Xbox 360’s joystick is so well designed that the U.S. Army is able to control small unmanned ground vehicles with them.
3. Virtual Battlespace 3 is a desktop trainer that simulates any environment for military training so its user can communicate and make decisions in a wide range of scenarios. The Battlespace series has been used by most NATO members for more than 5 years. It’s primarily used for tactical training and mission rehearsal and the Army has used it for training on more than 100 arms tasks. An Army program director has said the “VBS3 brings the user a modernized user interface, improved avatar fidelity, better path planning for AI, new AAR display and capability and multicast networking.
4. Ya know, it’s awful hard to drive a military tank… at least, that’s what I hear. But the Norwegian Armed Forces have come up with a solution using the Oculus Rift. With cameras mounted to the tank, the driver can now get an unobstructed, 360 view of the surroundings. It can even see through the body of the tank, like a vehicle view from a Battlefield game. And it’s cost-effective at around $2,000, whereas a conventional military system would be 50 times that amount – which is just crazy, if you ask me… but you didn’t… so I digress.
5. The military has actually been involved in gaming technology since 1960, offering funding and technical expertise to game and computer developers. In exchange, the armed forces would receive proprietary technology and technical consulting, which sounds like a good deal for all of those involved. The military for 30 years even led in financing, sponsoring and helping with the technology used in video games. “Spacewar!” is actually considered the first video game, which was developed by grad students at MIT.
6. With a PlayStation central processing unit at the helm, NASA was able to have its New Horizon probe cross the Solar System all the way to Pluto after a 9-year voyage. And it was actually a PlayStation 1 CPU. The chip was a special, radiation-hardened version, but it’s capabilities were only as powerful as that of the gaming console. NASA is also giving serious consideration to using gaming components in the development of space exploration robots, like the Mars rover named “Curiosity.” NASA is now using modified controllers for some of the down to earth robots. Students at the University of Surrey are also using Kinect technology to test an in-orbit docking system.
7. Piloting a drone can definitely be connected to gaming prowess. So much so that the military is now looking at recruitment of children who are as young as 12 to be brought up into the gaming culture with their critical thinking and adroitness in operating PlayStation and Xbox control systems for such operations. Since 2004, more than 3,000 are believed to have been killed by drone strikes. That figure includes 175 children and more than 500 civilian adults. Maybe the kids they’re recruiting can target what absolutely needs to be targeted.
8. Hey! Next time you’re going to be operated on, find out if your surgeon plays video games… might make a difference. In a research experiment in Italy, 21 residents surgeons were asked to play Nintendo WII video games for one hour a day for a month. They performed laparscopies, which involve inserting cameras into the body so they know where to operate. The residents playing the video games were found to be much better at performing surgeries than a control group that did not. The WII games chosen required strong hand-eye coordination, precision movement, depth perception and 3-D spatial visualization.
9. Today’s Army soldier is packing more than ammo, rations and fresh socks. They now are carrying Apple iPods and an iPhone in Afghanistan. They use the devices to view intelligence information and an app to calculate the range and trajectory of their shots, as well as weather conditions. Photos of detained suspects can also be uploaded to the iPhones and sent to their commanders.
10. In Sweden, gaming technology is helping police by using a virtual autopsy system to solve crimes. Also, German electronics and engineering giant Siemens has created an ultrasound scanner for expectant moms to view their unborn in 3-D with an NVIDIA graphics card and 3-D glasses. Ain’t technology great?
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