Wearable technology has evolved over the years, along with the needs of consumers. Fitness trackers are no longer just for athletes, currently the military is developing technology that can save the lives of soldiers, deployed in some of the harshest climates around the world. Being able to track the biosigns of soldiers, while on assignment, can save many more lives.
According to the US Army website, The Future of Wearable Tech, an article by Dr. Reed W. Hoyt and Dr. Karl E. Friedl (Col. USA Ret.)
“The Army uses wired and wireless monitoring systems to monitor real-time performance and safe operating limits of vehicles and aircrafts, but no comparable systems exists for soldiers.” Dr. Hoyt & Dr. Friedl
So, what is the military currently developing in order to track and monitor the health and performance of our soldiers? Dr. Hoyt and Dr. Friedl, revealed the current focus of the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USA RIEM), is developing chest-based sensors. Developing an realtime-physical status monitoring (RT-PSM) system, is more comprehensive in terms of overall physical health monitoring. These chest-based sensors will monitor: Respiration, Heart Rate, and Core Temperature. Changes in these specific vital signs can be indications of wounded soldiers, increasing the reaction time of medical assistance, and increased survival rate.
Earlier versions of RT-PSM systems have existed since early space exploration missions. In 1962, Sen. John Glenn, wore a spacesuit with a built in Heart Rate Monitor, allowing a medical team to monitor his vital signs from Cape Canaveral. Improvements to the systems are increasing the amount of data that can be collected, and used to assess realtime biological functions, determining if the soldier is physically operating within specific parameters, or if an immediate response to potentially dangerous threats and conditions is required.
Why is any of this important to you and I? I think it is is important to keep in mind, technology developed and tested by the US military, often becomes useful everyday technology for cilvilan use. Health and fitness advocates, Law Enforcement, athletes, parents, elderly, are all examples of the civilian sector who could benefit from RT-PSM technology. Understanding the overall health and well-being of our hard-working soldiers, is vital to saving lives in times of conflict.
“Working Soldiers until failure is costly–there are long-term costs of musculoskeletal injury and health Mgmt., lost expertise and time and expense of training replacements. RT-PSM systems can identify markers of compromised performance or safety, enabling early intervention when known need exists.”–Dr. Hoyt & Dr. Fried
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