Environment & Science

Raytheon opens new technology center in Downey

Raytheon's Tony Vassel demonstrates public safety technology for LA county sheriff's deputies
Raytheon's Tony Vassel demonstrates public safety technology for LA county sheriff's deputies
Brian Watt/KPCC

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Public safety officials from throughout the Southland visited Downey on Monday for the opening of Raytheon’s new Public Safety Regional Technology Center.

The warehouse-sized facility houses mock the command centers and conference rooms where police, firefighters and other first responders can help Raytheon develop new public safety technologies.

During the opening, company staff showed off what engineers have already designed - and the equipment spanned everything from microphones that determine where gunshots are coming from...to emergency translators.

"So, with this device you can communicate with another person where neither of you actually knows the other person’s language," said Raytheon's Aaron Challener, demonstrating the English-to-Pashto capability of the TransTalk Smartphone application with his colleague Ubaid Tokhi.

He leaned into the smartphone: “Can you describe the person that attacked you?”

The phone issued a series of blips and bloops before spitting out the question to Tokhi in Pashto, who responds in kind. And after a few seconds -

"He is very tall, had black hair with green eyes," replied the smartphone in (nearly) perfect English.

The center will employ about 150 people, including former public safety officials.

Meanwhile, employee Meghan Devine demonstrated Raytheon’s Boomerang Shooter Detection technology – a device that uses seven microphones to determine where gun shots are coming from in under a second.

The device can be attached to a building or a moving vehicle, and an even a smaller version can be worn on a vest.

Raytheon executive Dan Crowley says the center offers police, firefighters and other first responders a place to discuss their changing needs.

"And so they can bring in their ideas, their current systems, we can test those," Crowley explained. "We can show how new systems that are being fielded would work. [..] That’s really a unique capability, sort of a research and development arm for public safety that never existed before."

Raytheon is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation. Their core manufacturing is focused on weapons, military and commercial electronics.