USAMRDC, IDF: Wearable Tech a Top Focus for the Future
On March 29, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command hosted an inaugural virtual meeting on wearable technologies with researchers from the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps. The event, designed as a forum to discuss key military research efforts prior to the upcoming Shoresh medical research conference in September, featured more than 85 participants from both the U.S. Department of Defense and the Israeli government.
The support for such a meeting reveals how the desire for wearable technology – and its potential benefits – has skyrocketed within military research circles over the past few years.
"What stood out most from the conference, I think, is that this has become a type of technology that is applicable to virtually every research area within the Army," said David Evans, a meeting attendee who currently serves as a program manager with the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Coordinating Office. "Of all the groups who attended the meeting – the Army, the Navy, the many research programs at USAMRDC –they all have specific efforts where wearable technologies can support their mission – everything from training to garrison support to operational medicine and combat support."
The chief goal of the meeting was to identify different ways in which wearable technologies can be applied to a variety of military purposes; specifically training, equipment maintenance and operations, among others. As part of the agenda, subject matter experts from both the U.S. and Israel provided a total of 10 different presentations on wearable technologies across the two-and-half-hour long meeting. Most of the research presented relied on commercial off-the-shelf systems to collect data, addressing topics such as real-time monitoring of confined space operations, monitoring facial expressions to identify fatigue and exhaustion and the overall utility and interpretation of wearable technology.
"One of the ways USAMRDC helps maintain the resiliency of the overall Force is to maintain visibility on new and exciting research initiatives," said Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, Commanding General of USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, Maryland. "Collaborations with our international partners – the IDF being one of them – is how we achieve that goal."
Currently, both the U.S. and Israel are exploring use of wearable devices across an array of scenarios that demonstrate utility for medical staff, operational leaders and researchers.
Said Evans, whose office organized the meeting, "Moving forward, the real challenge will not so much be the development of the platforms – as there are already several commercial products that can collect data – rather the real challenge for the military will be refining the kind of data analysis that is useful for supporting decision making."
Additional plans for collaboration on concepts related to data analysis and testing are being discussed between both countries. The virtual meeting was held as part of the Data Exchange Agreement on Military Medicine, an agreement between the DOD and the IDF that began in 1978.