The article describes evaluative technologies as opposed to medicinal or healing technologies; meaning, the uniform would tell where you need a band-aid instead of providing a band-aid. At first glance, it doesn't seem like a value-added idea.
When I've had the opportunity to interview infantry and foot-soldiers regarding ergonomic focus groups for new product development, their attitude is largely one of survival over cool technology.In 2007, a large defense contractor launched an initiative called the Connected Warrior, which failed amongst the ranks due to the cumbersome nature of all the extra gear and batteries required. As one soldier bluntly put it, "I get deployed 6 duffle bags of CRAP – and if it ain't bullets or water, I chuck it".
Innovative technologies to help the enlisted men and women must be completely conformable or it will never get adopted.
With the work I do, designs seem to be somewhat evolutionary and not revolutionary.It very well may be the DOD never really thought about having the ability to monitor the well-being of a soldier on the battlefield or maybe the ability to do so is catching up with the need to do.At any rate, it's a great idea although I do agree that added weight from batteries to drive the system might be a real concern.Good reliability would be absolutely necessary to prevent false positives when signals were received.
Battar, the army is actively trying to reduce the number of things a soldier must carry. Adding a device goes against that. Making something they already have do double (or triple!) duty is the right direction.
A uniform that monitors for wounds, AND can power itself via temperature differential, would be a smart design (in both meanings of the phrase).
A chart of a soldier's load weight (all that he is expected to carry, including uniform), plotted against years would show the load slowly creeps up, until it reaches some critical point, at which the army goes on an equipment weight loss program, only to see it creep up again as new features/tools become available.
The average soldier of Vietnam did not have to carry night vision gear (there were exceptions). Now NVG is almost standard issue. The soldiers of WWII and Korea did not have to carry batteries.
Why embed the sensors in the uniform? Why not provide a wearable device directly? For example, a watch that monitors blood pressure and transmits an emergency signal and homing beacon if the blood pressure goes off scale one way or the other (very low blood pressure is a symptom of shock and blood loss).
Easy to hypothesize a context where having your uniform "call home" might equate to "painting a target on your position". But if you consider the benefit to a "Man Down!" of being able to pinpoint the person's location (via a low-signal-strength short-range signal)so no need to search through debris and rubble, yes, you get faster aid. And with many types of wounds, the primary immediate need is to apply pressure to the wound: the UNIFORM could handle that. Assuming some combination of contractile and inflatable fabric, the uniform could form a localized pressure pad and significantly reduce the loss of blood from a trunk wound. The same functionality would enable an intelligent "tourniquet" for wounds to extremities. These various capabilities, in conjunction with the audio capability of the distributed sensors, also enable a virtual "blood pressure cuff".
Realizable goals and constraints accumulate and evolve.
Rob, I know of the boot mechanism you describe (saw it featured either here or at Machine Design).
In Robert Heinlein's words: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. The boot mechanism uses a trooper's own energy. That means in addition to walking, the trooper puts some effort into moving the boot mechanism. A little extra resistance.
I don't see that particular mechanism going very far. It's too external (susceptable to damage). Anything that would sap energy from me (extra resistance to movement) is NOT going to be greeted with enthusiasm.
Think about it. Would you want to wear something that resists your motion after climbing Afghan mountains all day?
The soldiers of WWII frequently jettisoned their gas masks as soon as they could, calling it extra, unnecessary weight.
The better means of powering this clothing would be the cloth that uses temperature differential (outer layer to inner layer) to generate electricity (it was featured here a month or two ago). Combine that cloth with this technology would be a VERY smart thing.
You're right, TJ, the uniform would need a power source. But that could be taken care of by using a device that generates power. The military already has devices that attach to the boot and charge batteries through simple movement such as walking.
George Leopold's talk at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis helped restore astronaut and engineer Gus Grissom's role in the beginnings of NASA, and outlined how Grissom played a pivotal role in winning the Space Race.
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