Military tested, ultra rugged wearable computer system gets commercial release


May 26, 2011

Black Diamond's MTS: lightweight, ultra-rugged wearable computing and communications kit

Black Diamond's MTS: lightweight, ultra-rugged wearable computing and communications kit

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Military computer manufacturer Black Diamond Advanced Technology has released its ultra-rugged wearable PC and communications kit as a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) system. Adaptable to a range of specialist missions, the Modular Tactical System (MTS) system is - as the name suggests - not just a pack containing a computer. Components are split-up are and integrated into different parts of the soldier's uniform and equipment so that mobility isn't compromised, and it's designed to make the transition from computer operation to direct combat engagement in seconds.

The system has been operationally tested in Afghanistan and is optimized for dismounted C4ISR (that's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance). Worn as a vest, its rear plate carrier holds that processing platform, peripheral controller and power manager while a flip down 6.5-inch, sunlight-viewable, night vision goggle-compatible Universal Tactical Display (UTD) sits at the front and a GPS unit sits at the shoulder. In night-vision mode the UTD produces no detectable light beyond 33-feet and it can be worn at chest or lower torso height. Cables are routed through a cummerbund that integrates body armor and I/O ports while the computer itself has a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, 2 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD, and an SD card slot. Depending on the configuration required, the system weighs between 1.8 and 3.5 pounds and it's designed to works with batteries already carried by the soldier, as well as vehicle power.

Black Diamond says that the MTS doesn't compromising any of the certified ballistics protection and that the system eliminates any need to never to stop and put down gear while powering up or repacking equipment.

"Black Diamond's goal was to approach the wearable computer solution as a complete system, providing true on-the-move performance and situational awareness for a variety of applications," said Justin Dyster, Black Diamond's vice president of engineering.

The MTS is adaptable to targeting, combat medics, explosive ordnance disposal, military intelligence and company command applications.

Although Black Diamond focuses on military applications, it sees its products as suitable for commercial roles in industries like biometrics, oil and gas exploration and deep sea exploration. We can see another scenario where a lightweight, wearable, easily accessible, ultra-rugged computer might come in handy - trade show press days.

MTS specifications (click image to enlarge):


Anyone else disappointed that a base price was not listed? Seems like something I would wear around just because its that BA.

Austin Brown

I saw a cute prototype of this on a train communist East Germany thirty years ago. It consisted of a similar vest, only in smart navy blue, worn by a border guard. On the front it had a fold down desk and all his various rubbers stamps and different coloured pens each in its own holder on his chest. He was very brusque and proudly efficient, but to us he just looked silly. This guy looks a bit silly too, don\'t you think? Soldiers no longer look dashing and manly, just geeky.

Doug MacLeod

I pity the sucker who gets the 1.1ghz version running windows 7, who needs to get info off this thing while being shot at.

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