The military continues to focus its efforts on developing the most sophisticated technologies and capabilities needed to sustain tactical advantage and achieve mission objectives. But the most critical component to success on the battlefield continues to lie with the warfighter.
A collaborative, multidisciplinary team of U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) researchers recently demonstrated that nontoxic liquid metals can create multifunctional, reconfigurable electronics and flexible power connections for nontraditional electronics. The advance may help lead to self-healing electronics, shape-shifting antennas and clothing woven with conductive threads to electronically connect devices.
Douglas Maughan, director of the Cyber Security Division at the U.S.
U.S. Army research on wearable technologies could lead to a future in which soldiers wear helmets with embedded thought sensors to communicate with one another and autonomous systems.
For now, scientists have developed a prototype architecture that will allow soldiers equipped with wearable technologies to communicate with each other and with robotic systems using hand gestures—even if team members are not within sight. The technologies will increase situational awareness, which ultimately improves mission effectiveness.
The future of wearable technologies will plug people—from head to toe—into the Internet using smart clothing embedded with sensors connected to smartphones that can relay an abundance of environmental, health and fitness information to apps that track users’ well-being. Designers are even creating tattoolike devices that gather data through skin contact and transmit it wirelessly to smartphones and remote diagnostic facilities.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has announced its first business accelerator program, EMERGE!, aimed at entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas that address the unique needs of the homeland security community and whose wearable technologies could be adapted for first responder operations.
It’s not every day you get the chance to try on one of the most buzzed-about consumer technology advances in recent memory, so I jumped at the chance to try out Google Glass during a recent visit with Thermopylae Sciences and Technology.
Elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan are now using the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Rifleman Radio combined with the GD300 wearable computer. The radio enables intrasquad communications, and the GD300's Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR) tactical app allows soldiers to share text messages, situation reports and other information.
Cutting-edge consumer technology that once seemed possible only in science-fiction films now is in the hands of experts and innovators working to solve government challenges. From wearable mobile devices to a sensor that lets you control your screen with the wave of a hand or lift of a finger, these tools could one day be key to serving soldiers in the field.