A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

Like the old song says, "Every picture tells a story, don't it?"

A digital camera being used by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq produces pictures can tell incredibly detailed stories: exact time of day taken, longitude/latitude of both shooter and subject, direction of the camera aim, and even 16 seconds of audio per photo, so that the user can note critical information.

"You get everything you need in three seconds," said Jim Kidd, vice president of Geo Tactical Solutions of Parker, Colo. Everything is stored on a memory disk and can be turned over to intel officials for analysis. "This way, you get back into the rear and the intel people don't have you sitting for hours going over what you saw."

The Ricoh 500SE-M Tactical Digital Camera is the heart of the system. It comes with a GPS capability developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and is compatible with the range of mapping software and programs, including Google Earth and Falcon View, Kidd said.

The camera's accessories include telescopic lenses, a night-vision lens and a range finder that captures the distance between shooter and target and IDs the target's exact latitude and longitude. Even on its own, the camera records its own location every five seconds, and specifically notes its lat/long whenever a photo is taken, according to Kidd.

For Marines and Soldiers out on patrol, the camera is a continuously updated log. Once back at base, the disc can be put into a computer and the entire route of the patrol can be superimposed over a zoom-in/zoom-out map, with each spot where a picture clearly marked; a click on the mark and the image appears as a pop-up.

"We've got about 1,000 of these downrange right now in Afghanistan and Iraq," Kidd said.

-- Bryant Jordan

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