The Land Warrior project links together components such as a radio system, a rifle-mounted video camera and thermal sight, and a Global Positioning System. The computer systems will be networked as well, and a helmet that has a special display will allow the soldier to display maps with the position of squadmates superimposed in their field of vision. The computer, also packed within silicon gel, serves as a shock absorber and a coolant.
At a cost of $15,000 each, Lai says the networking technology has the potential to radically reorganize how soldiers make decisions by enhancing the awareness of soldiers in the field. But even now, engineers are looking ahead to the possibility of a more "Internetted" system. On the technological horizon is the JEDI vest (an acronym for Joint Expeditionary Digital Information, not an homage to Luke Skywalker), which allows the user to be linked to satellites.