THE US Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) is working on a new product that could give troops access to digital maps in the field, according to Geoplace.
Digital maps, charts and imagery can provide more up-to-date and accurate information than printed maps, but carrying devices to view them is often not convenient for troops.
So researchers from the NGA explored technologies to improve hardcopy printing, reviewing requirements for paper, ink and color visual efficiency.
The research resulted in a military-specification large-format plotter for printing vector and raster graphics that can print up-to-date maps in the field.
The plotter has been undergoing beta testing at an NGA facility and officials expect it to be deployed in 2010, the Geoplace report says.
The system includes a workstation that contains a PDF database of maps and charts, each specific to an area of interest.
It also includes a raster image processor that converts PDF spot-color separations into pixels or bitmap files as well as a set of plotters optimised for printing to military specifications.
This approach can reduce printing time when compared with a conventional four-colour printing process, and uses ink more efficiently.