News | Jan 24, 2020

Businesses can now productize ‘Spectrum Hunter,’ Navy’s augmented reality tech

News Article Image of Businesses can now productize ‘Spectrum Hunter,’ Navy’s augmented reality tech

Jason Bartlett, a scientist at the Naval Information Warfare Center, shows a Spectrum Hunter prototype to a Marine during a field exercise at Camp Lejeune in 2019.

Joe Bullinger/Navy

The U.S. Navy wants to enforce radio silence with hands-free augmented reality goggles that allow sailors to see radio waves emitted from mobile phones or other devices.

Designed by researchers at the Naval Information Warfare Center’s Atlantic Division, the Spectrum Hunter is a radio frequency emission detection and localization device that users wear like goggles. The U.S. patent application for the Spectrum Hunter was made public on Thursday (linked below).

Spectrum Hunter would replace the 10-pound tablet and a handheld wand Navy personnel currently use to find and shut down their own transmitters, e.g. mobile phones, which is an operational security task known as “own force monitoring,” but other applications like maintenance and threat detection are envisioned.

“The Spectrum Hunter system under development is hands-free. As the user packs a similar-but-smaller geolocator receiver in a backpack and wears a headset inside a helmet that allows them to ‘see’ images of RF waves on an augmented reality screen superimposed over heavy sunglasses,” said Jessica Sinclair, the Spectrum Hunter’s lead inventor. “The helmet is fitted with a sunshade so the equipment operates outdoors.”

“Our team is initially focusing on detecting handheld radios and will expand the scope later to detect cell phones and other devices,” Sinclair said. “In the future, we plan to modify it to identify RF waves emitting from enemy forces.”

The Navy developed a Spectrum Hunter prototype in 2019 that was tested by sailors and Marines.

News Article Image of Businesses can now productize ‘Spectrum Hunter,’ Navy’s augmented reality tech

One cryptologic technician aims a handheld antenna while another observes a tablet screen during own force monitoring aboard the USS Gonzalez in 2019. The Navy developed the Spectrum Hunter for this activity.

Maria Alvarez/Navy

In-Licensing Business Opportunity

Businesses interested in turning the Spectrum Hunter into their newest product can license the intellectual property rights and gain access to the Navy technical data package through a patent license agreement.

Sean Patten, senior technology manager at TechLink, is an expert in Navy technology transfer, helping businesses review and then license Navy technologies like Spectrum Hunter.

Patten said the Navy is envisioning several form factors for Spectrum Hunter, including backpack, helmet, or belt-mounted antennas, compatible with commercially available augmented reality devices like Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“It’s a real problem-solver in the ever-crowded RF environment, ” Patten said. “With military and non-military applications, this is a great business opportunity.”


For more information contact Sean Patten at spatten@montana.edu or 406-994-7721.