Sensors Determine Effects of Explosions on Military Personnel
DARPA's Blast Gauge can be worn on the back of a soldier's helmet to determine the physical effects of a bomb or shrapnel blast during combat. The device includes a microprocessor and sensors that record and store blast event data to be examined later by medical personnel and researchers. (Source: DARPA)
Elizabeth, can you tell us a bit more about exactly what kind of data is stored and what kind of sensors are used? Is this some kind of data that measures blast intensity or distance from the soldier, for example, or data that measures some kind of biological responses? For example, how is "risk of injury" measured?
This is an interesting device. I wonder if it also has the capability to signal that an explosion has occurred. Seems it would be a simple capability to add. While this device makes a lot of sense, it becomes yet another item attached to soldiers in the field. I'm also curious about the devices power source. Perhaps a small, light battery is sufficient.
What a great device. Throughout many of our wars, soldiers have returned from battle with undiagnosed and misunderstood head injuries, many of which were caused by blasts nearby. It's great to see we're making an effort to understand those injuries more deeply. Hopefully, that understanding will translate to better treatments.
Yes, this is a great device, Chuck. It would be interesting to know what prompted the development of the device. Was it military medical professionals trying to gain a better understanding of what happens to the soldiers in the field? Probably so. If so, it's good to see the needs of military medical staff getting development response.
Hmmmm – not sure I endorse this, as I question what value it provides.It seems to be a shock sensor, very likely using a MEMS accelerometer and a small pill battery, to measure and log forces and impacts.While it will pass the SWAP (size, weight and power) criteria that footsoldiers demand against carrying extra gear, I'm not convinced it has real value added.Will a blinking light assist a medic in triage (evaluating worst first) ??There's no substitute for a real medic evaluating real bleeding injuries.I see this device as secondary reference to validate trauma evaluation, at best.Am I wrong-?
Jim, I'm thinking that the value lies in telling the medical team what they might be dealing with, especially if aid is not immediately available. Did he get a minor conucussion and was only out for a few minutes? Are his injuries mostly from an explosion or was he overcome by something in the air? I agree with the other poster that weight might be an issue. Hopefully, something like this can be minimized so it can be as available as the radiation badges.
@JimT, I'm kind of on the fence too. Also, a light/LED may not be a great idea in a warzone especially at night. It may help the friends but foes see too. I know there are special LEDs and such for such applications and hopefully they have them written into their hardware design requirements.
From the article, I'm inferring that the sensor outputs a red, yellow or green condition to assist the field medic in making a quick determination if head concussion and/or trauma is present. Then, the value of this sensor would be to help the medic make sure he/she doesn't miss a non-obvious head injury (when seconds count and life hangs in a delicate balance). This quick diagnosis seems like one of the benefits this sensor is intended to bring.
I agree that additional weight and restrictive equipment would be a huge negative, but as sensors go I think it is a good fit. Consider working with hazardous material without wearing a dosimeter. The function of this sensor appears to fit well with sensor canon -- extending the ability of our human senses to measure something that we are unable to transduce on our own. After treating the systems we can sense (airway, breathing, circulation) this Blast Gauge can be useful in treating head injuries and other hidden trauma; things Greg points out requiring immediate attention.
However they are only going to get the best a broken budget can give them. And the issue is not lack of money. It's the amount of money wasted. The million dollar hammers and wrenches that are ruining our troop's safety.
Quite a few years back my employer designed and built a system for evaluating the effects of a mine blasting an armored vehicle into the air. It seems that the landing was the problem, because a blast that will send a big truck 15 feet into the air will also blow off the wheels, so that it lands without benefit of the suspension. I have no idea what ultimate decisions were made with the data gained from that testing, but it was interesting to know that the problem was not in the blast but in the landing. I certainly did get to work on some interesting projects.
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