3-D mapping
Credit: DARPA

In 1976, shortly after an Israeli commando team stormed a terrorist-occupied plane in Entebbe, Uganda, Israel announced that the soldiers responsible for quickly executing the highjackers had trained for their mission in a replica airport. This type of mission modeling has remained a huge focus for military engineers over the last 37 years. The first efforts made by DARPA anticipated Google Maps by employing cars outfitted with cameras to drive around urban areas taking enough pictures to enable a digital walk-through. Since then, things have gotten even more outlandish. Two years ago, DARPA announced it had created the Urban Photonic Sandtable Display, a 360-degree 3-D holographic display designed to assist battle planners. The technology, which does not require glasses, is completely interactive, allowing users to rotate the display and zoom in on specific details. Created by Zebra Imaging, the technology looks as though it was inspired by 'Avatar,' but research and development was under way long before that 3-D blockbuster hit the screens.