I'm assuming that each sensor point would be some type of encapsulated "lump" which could reasonably be attached (encapsulated?) after the uniform itself has been fabricated. Most sensors could conceivably be general purpose, with a subset designed to be positioned adjacent to key physiological elements (heart, trachea, carotid, diaphragm, etc) and another subset (if specialization is necessary) designed to be gridded in primary haptic I/O points (gloves, forearms, thighs, chest, back, hips, etc). The majority of the volume of each "lump" would likely be made up of the encapsulant, some type of transducer (piezo? etc), the network transceiver mechanism, and the ultracapacitor energy storage element.
But the intent would be for these devices to be attached where there is space available, not to preempt priority of any existing uniform functionality (other than maybe augmenting buttons, snaps, closures, elastics (for power generation), etc). The actual encapsulated "lump" could feasibly survive environmental excursions that would exceed the limits of the wearer (and the rest of the uniform).
In the sense that design is always an iterative process, with "what we COULD do" influencing "where are we going with this", some kind of evolving specification would emerge, hopefully soon enough to prevent self-destructive "feature creep".
@flare0one: The application in the textile is easy but putting it in a functional military uniform is the challenge.
Worldwide, uniforms have evolved to meet the needs of military personnel. Some things can't be moved or removed because it interferes with the new technology. The uniforms have to maintain their function under a wide range of conditions-hot, dry, wet, cold, etc.
Assume an adhoc network of minimally intelligent sensors embedded in fabric, scattered around the entire body. With some rudimentary spatial framework analysis resulting in a three-dimensional "body image", with ancillary temperature and perhaps pressure and acoustic measurements, it should be possible to map out everything happening to the uniform wearer -- from loose backpack straps and untied shoelaces down to point-of-impact for projectile wounds and, worst case, impact damage and loss of limbs, etc.
In a perfect world, that adhoc network would be able to make use of (and share) spare processing power to perform augmented intelligence tasks, acting for example as a full-body haptic interface between the wearer and a "smart phone" or equivalent, or, depending on line-of-sight and optical interface options, interfacing/coordinating between multiple individuals. I like the possibility of acoustic point-of-discharge analysis for incoming fire, too, given the virtual-sensor-array size benefit of correlating input from multiple uniforms across an area. Sharing processor power gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "All right, let's huddle up"...
It would seem that another DN post going into detail about the benefits of ultracapacitors versus batteries (re wind-farm generators) might be pertinent to the power requirements (given that you do NOT want to have to monkey with replacing sensor battery elements).
One answer is power. The uniform becomes just another device requiring power to run. A significant percentage of the load a soldier must carry is spare batteries. The army is currently on a push to get all the devices a soldier now carries to use a common battery size.
It seems to me that the technology to support the application is pretty accessible. I'm actually surprised uniforms like this aren't a staple on the battlefield. Any sense as to why it's lagged behind? I would think there would be dozens of small businesses all over this opportunity to land a meaty government contract.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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