Lend me your EARS:
QinetiQ North America, a US subsidiary of the UK-based defense company, has an interesting product to pinpoint hostile gunfire quickly while dismounted from a vehicle: Man-portable gunshot detection. Their EARS system has been operational for a while as a vehicle and building mounted gunshot detection system. In 2008, after much development, they fielded their SWATS (Shoulder-Worn Acoustic Targeting System). PEO Soldier gave it the acronym IGDS (Individual Gunshot Detection System) as well. Unlike ShotSpotter, which is not portable and can detect shots over a multiple square mile area, the EARS technology can detect shots from 700m on in. Shots fired within 50m do not register, as to not overwhelm the user with detection of their own unit’s fire.
The SWATS unit itself comes in two parts, the remote/display and the shoulder worn detection puck. The complete system weighs 15oz and is only 472cc in size. It is powered by two CR123 batteries. The remote has a visual display of the distance and angle, and the unit also gives off an audio cue of where the shot/s were detected coming from.
As far as military usage, the system has been successfully fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Various police forces around the world have purchased units as well. Though there have been various testimonials as far as its effectiveness in open areas, I am unsure of its performance in heavily built-up urban areas. As component miniaturization progresses over time, I believe it is only a matter of time before many infantrymen and patrol officers may have one of these units as part of their worn technology suite. It could also be a very useful tool for game wardens as well to detect potential illegal harvesting of game animals. Law enforcement or military readers: Have any of you used these units? If so, we’d love to hear from you in our comments section as to their utility and effectiveness.