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Vandy Researchers Make Smartphones Into Sniper Locators

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File photo of practice shooting at a gun range. (credit: Getty Images)

File photo of practice shooting at a gun range. (credit: Getty Images)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS Charlotte) – Soon, locating gunfire might be as easy as sending a text message.

Computer engineers from Vanderbilt University have developed software that can turn any given Android smartphone into a tool for finding a shooter’s location.

The system, developed by the university’s Institute of Software Integrated Systems program, is something that’s been six years in the making. With the Department of Defense dumping millions of dollars into some sort of sophisticated sniper location system in the last decade, Akos Ledeczi, an associate professor of electrical and computer science, was able to develop a program that turned soldiers’ combat helmets into “smart nodes.” In this system, a wireless network could help identify the location of enemy snipers pretty rapidly and with astounding accuracy.

But that’s not all. According to the researchers, there is also an external sensor module with microphones. The external module, about the size of a deck of cards, is able to detect the acoustic signature of a gunshot. Then, the information that’s collected can be sent to other modules, which can triangulate a position of where the gunshot happened.

For now, the system is best suited for security teams. It could, however, grow in the near future.

“It would be very valuable for dignitary protection,” Kenneth Pence, a retired SWAT officer and associate professor of the practice of engineering management, said in a news release. “I’d also love to see a version developed for police squad cars.”

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