Innovation Elsewhere – DARPA’s May “Demo Day”

Fully-functional prosthetic arms. “Unhackable” helicopter drones.

Educational games that teach kids fractions while teaching scientists how to refine training techniques for soldiers.

An augmented-reality helmet with a see-through screen over one eye, showing the wearer which route to follow by superimposing it on the landscape.

All were on display earlier this month at the DARPA “demo day” in Washington.

And what was on display wasn’t just science fiction.

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has had a hand in many of the technologies we have come to rely on every day.

Siri and GPS all owe a lot to DARPA, as does the self-driving car, which appears to be just over the horizon.

The government research institute is also using Oculus Rift to help enhance cyberwarfare – they call it Plan X.

Plan X is supposed to train a cadet for an hour, so he or she can launch a cyberattack just as easily as launching a missile or as intuitive as playing as Angry Birds.

Most of DARPA Demo Day featured projects by the organization’s I2O unit, which has a software focus.

Some of the more interesting (or, depending on your point of view, more alarming) projects on display included:

MEMEX is an ambitious plan for a next-generation search engine that indexes the deep web.

Big Mechanism will enable computers to read journals and other sources of knowledge and extract intelligence about things like cancer, economies, and the brain.

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