back to article DARPA working on inertial-nav 'Smart Boot' tech

Elite Pentagon deathnerds have just awarded a contract for development of a highly accurate inertial navigation module which will fit in the heel of a shoe. Massachusetts sensors'n'tracking company Intersense were chuffed to announce the deal this week, in which the firm will work with Case Western university to deliver tiny …


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  1. Ian Halstead

    Clark's Trackers...

    ...beat them by about 30 years.

    For those that don't know or can't remember, Clarks Trackers were nerdy shoes with a compass hidden in the heel, and animal track moulded soles. Woggle botherers' territory.

  2. Graham Marsden

    Buy your new...

    .... Government approved footwear now!

    Every breath you take

    Every move you make

    Every bond you break

    Every step you take

    We'll be watching you...

  3. SuperTim
    Black Helicopters

    Erm....not quite the reason.

    Firstly, Military GPS is significantly better than Halfords brand. Down to less than 10cm in some cases. So that is more than accurate enough to remove an insurgent's face with a stand off weapon.

    Secondly, Inertial Nav would only be able to tell you what co-ordinates you are at. Which is useless against a moving target.

    TV guidance and such is useful as it hits what you are aiming at, not the location that you assume it is at.

    This device will be handy for spec-ops and as a back up to regular systems for sure, but targeting is less of a problem than intelligence gathering, so i think they could do with some better spotters to avoid sending the spec-ops team on a zippo raid in a baby milk factory.

  4. Graham Bartlett

    10 years after a work colleague looked at it...

    At this point I'd like to give a big shout out to Charlie Wartnaby, a former work colleague, who 10 years ago was playing around with a shoe-mounted 3-axis accelerometer to measure his running speed. Even at the time, this wasn't a new idea - Charlie found that someone already had a patent on it.

    Oh, and re the article, the final few paragraphs seem a bit odd. Boot location sensors would certainly help the Americans not to kill any of their own soldiers or any of their allies' soldiers (a useful feature given their track record), but it's not much use for stopping the aforesaid Hellfire missile wiping out a houseful of sandal-wearing women and their barefoot kiddies.

  5. Anonymous Bastard

    All fine and dandy...

    ...until Mrs Terrorist says "take those filthy boots off! I just mopped that floor" and then the tracking plan is scuppered.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Top tip!

    " to locate and track individual terrorists with a high degree of accuracy."

    Terrorists. Avoid unwanted US military attention by not following up those "cheap boots and shoes" offers that appear in your email inbox every day.

  7. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Civilian apps could be awesome

    Are we close to the technological breakthrough of a pair of boots that can walk you home from the pub after an all-night bender???

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orthopaedic shoes

    One has to wonder why, if you intend to kill the target, you would bother tracking the target via his shoes when you could simply put explosive/a very sharp nail/one of those stones that always gravitiates to the most annoying part of your foot, into the boot in the first place?

  9. GrahamT

    relative vs absolute positioning

    Inertial guidance suffers from increased error with distance travelled as the position is always relative to the start position, as any errors are cumulative. Absolute positioning, such as GPS, has the same errors regardless of distance.

    The two together might work: GPS for calibrating when within receiving sight of a satellite or 3, then inertial for the delta from that known position.

  10. Paul

    Wii shoe anyone?

    How long before its a game controller? Mind you, it'd be good for all those little roomba spawn that we'll get someday.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Inertial nav

    relying solely on GPS for mission critical weapons (especially nuclear deterrent) would be beyond stupid. Although it's unlikely, in the event of a major war, an adversary could knock out a dozen GPS satellites with rockets or perhaps totally jam the frequency of the GPS signal within its borders....

    Thats the last thing you want when China decides it wants to run the world!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... a SmartBoot stamping on a human face, forever.

  13. Mike Epstein

    Inertial-Nav Drift

    Inertial nav can use the last good GPS coordinates as a starting point for the nav unit, but the nav unit will drift for accuracy if the coordinates are not refresh within ten-fifteen minutes. Any comments on this???

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