The possible applications for wearable technology are especially interesting for the field of military innovations.
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The soldier of the future is most likely going to be the protagonist of the practical application of wearable technology. Armed forces from different countries are seeing the solution for many battle field necessities in the so-called ‘wearable computing’ field.
These purely military applications are combined with others, which we have been talking about in the mobile health segment (mHealth) that make it possible to monitor the physical activity and various other parameters of the soldiers condition and detect and resolve any physical or health problems if necessary.
We had gotten used to seeing these kinds of gadgets in big Hollywood productions, where futurist military concepts can turn soldiers into super-soldiers. However, this concept is not as far from reality as other things you may see in the cinema.
BioHarness or MC10 as the main examples
An example of this are sensors like the BioHarness, which is integrated in a shirt and measures the stress levels of firemen, soldiers and even astronauts. Another company called MC10 manufactures sensors for helmets which make it possible to identify possible wounds to the head.
These sensors, which are placed on the inside of the soldiers’ armors , form complete monitoring systems for breathing, cardiac activity, body temperature and other parameters which are helpful for training missions and combat. It is even possible to combine these sensors with acoustical ones in order to detect bullet impacts or traumas which would help doctors treat the affected area more quickly and precisely.
Although many of these developments are aimed at monitoring the physical condition and activity of the soldier, others are designed to improve mobility. For instance, a solar energy kit developed by different universities in the United Kingdom enables the military uniform to collect solar energy with photovoltaic cells; there are thermoelectric devices as well, which convert temperature differences in electricity thanks to the Peltier-Seebeck effect. The advantages are obvious, because these types of systems significantly alleviate the weight of the traditional backpacks containing batteries, that soldiers have to carry to have power supply for different devices. They also make use of clean and renewable energy sources and increase the independence from traditional power sources.
For combat pilots there are some equally interesting proposals. For some time already Raytheon is developing systems for pilots of helicopters and other combat aircraft, which interestingly do not even require the pilots to be inside the aircraft. The so-called “situational awareness”, featured by this development allows the pilot to see, feel and hear everything going on around the helicopter or plane without necessarily having to be physically seated in the cockpit.
Many companies behind these kinds of systems make good profits developing for the military market, but they also make use of commercial developments aimed at end users. This is the case of the company Thermopylae, which is precisely preparing technological innovations for military use, which were not originally designed for this market. The perfect example for this is, without a doubt, Google Glass. For various months already, the invention from Google is being tested for use in combat situations. In addition to that, the same concept is being applied to rifle scopes or night goggles. The possible uses for this technology seem – once more – unlimited.