The US Army has assisted Tech Valley Technologies
in developing a targeting system that takes training to the next level. This targeting system, known as the Matrix Round Location (MRL) system, registers each hit on a target, sends target penetration information back to a computer operated by the trainer/system operator, and allows each shooter to see, in real-time, the exact location that his target was hit.
The targets use wireless technology to transfer the target hit information back to the trainer/system operator and can be placed virtually anywhere. Even though this brings live-fire target training to a new level it does not create the realism that interaction between multiple individuals can produce.
Tech Valley Technologies has made a significant advancement in training and in live-fire confrontation by taking this technology even one step further through incorporating it with a Global Positioning System (GPS) into a product called the SenseSuit™.
The SenseSuit was designed with both military and law enforcement applications in mind. The suit is comprised of a material that can detect a hit from a rubber bullet, paint ball projectile, or a blunt force of a taser modified to deliver the projectiles without any electrical charge. With SenseSuit, the firearms training market may have a more realistic training environment that will allow officers to not only test their skills, but to do so with all of the tools at their disposal.
Each trainee in the exercise has a unique number associated with the SenseSuit they are wearing and is tracked by the trainer/system operator. The system tracks each player by their SenseSuit ID and has the identity of each player mapped only in the tracking system database.
Once the exercise has completed and each player has been debriefed, the data can be sterilized by removing the identity from the SenseSuit ID, therefore, giving anonymity to the officers in the exercise. However, the tracking information contained in the computer can be used for future training and can be as extensive or as brief as the departments’ policy demands.
Officers can attempt to de-escalate a situation or resort to non-lethal or less than lethal force before having to rely on a lethal weapon. Because the entire system is portable, it can be deployed virtually anywhere. For example, an old abandoned farmhouse could instantly be converted into a mocked-up drug lab and have officers acting as assailants inside.
Other officers might conduct a raid on the mock lab and the entire scenario would be recorded for post-analysis or future training. A very dynamic environment in training is created by using SenseSuit technology because the operator and the officers can change the outcome of each training scenario.
How Does It Work?
SenseSuit technology works with a sensing membrane embedded in the suit and a GPS tracking system that is portable and can be set-up within seconds. The trainer system/operator monitors each player’s activity via a computer that, when initiated, identifies all of the players by code (no names needed) and their respective team color.
Once each SenseSuit has been activated each player’s icon will appear on the tracking system topographical map, in the corresponding team color, and the exercise begins.
During a confrontation, the officer can resort to whatever weapon the officer feels is sufficient to accomplish the goal and bring about a successful conclusion to the encounter. If a projectile strikes a player, the operator can determine if the hit was lethal or superficial and the officer can continue the exercise or be removed (depending on the status) through a simple X being superimposed on the player’s icon on the tracking system’s display.
This training can be valuable when an officer or trainer has to testify in court about the use of force or if the officer is ever required to make a decision in a training scenario that tests an officer’s ability to make judgment calls and resort with more force.
This tracking provides the trainer the exact location of each officer within the shoot house or on the exercise or range field, including when and where they have suffered a direct hit by an opposing team. The computer contains a topographical map of the area where the exercise is taking place and tracks, in real-time, the officers as they advance on the target to secure the area.
The activity is staged only in the number of hours or days allowed for the exercise. The trainer can set up the house with inert targets representing a drug lab and adding to the realism that a stray bullet could spell disaster for the officers and the suspects. This is accomplished by lining any prohibited item with SenseSheet™ membrane, which is the same membrane technology used in the SenseSuit, to record any stray bullets.
As such, this new SenseSuit technology opens the door for more practical applications in the field of law enforcement. Shoot houses and targets equipped with this advanced technology give immediate feedback of proficiencies achieved during the exercise to the trainer and officer.
The practical use of this type of technology is when an officer on a task force has to engage in a live-fire confrontation. The SenseSuit also has the capability to detect a break in the suit caused by a bullet and locate the exact coordinates of its penetration.
During an actual assault or confrontation, the system operator can individually track each officer and coordinate the entire operation. If an officer is shot, the system will immediately identify the location on the body where a shot impact occurred, determine the fatality of the injury and, where appropriate, send in officers to assist.
The immediate action by the operator in the command center and the quick response to remove an injured officer is a life saving feature that far exceeds the cost of the investment by a department to provide this technology to their officers in the field. An extra shirt? Not at all. The SenseSuit could replace the existing shell of the armored vest that the officers now wear. During tactical operations, a command center is set up and the equipment can be transported in the trunk of a patrol car with the computer hookup in the vehicle.
The GPS units are small and portable when needed to repeat the location information from the transmitter to the receiver, and the officers only have to activate the small tracking device on the vest to be fully operational.
New technologies are now available that allow officers and trainers to better simulate real-world scenarios which involve live-fire or confrontations. To date, the currently available systems do not allow for this and, as a result, lives may be unnecessarily lost. By using both the MRL system and the SenseSuit technology, training is advanced to the next level.
Both the military and law enforcement will now be able to better train their officers to be safer in urban assault or any conflict situation.
John Eramo retired as a Criminal Investigator with the New York State Department of Tacation and Finance— office of the Deputy Inspector General — with 34+ years in state service. Over the past 30 years of state service John has conducted classes for peace and police officers around the US. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.