Photograph: U.S. Department of Defense

Army Wants Wearable Health Sensors to Keep Soldiers Fit to Fight

June 5, 2018 Cameron Leuthy

Unit commanders need to know the condition of troops under their command at all times– are soldiers alert, or tired, stressed, sick, dehydrated or cold? The Army’s futuristic solution is the development of wearable health sensors. Its Medical Command has issued a preliminary request for project proposals to modify an existing sensor, which will rely on Bluetooth technology until the Army can devise a different tactical wireless format.

The Army wants Health Readiness and Performance System (HRAPS) proposals that would provide:

  • A tactically secure communications platform with plug-and-play, mission-tailorable sensors;
  • Data on the real-time health and performance status of individual soldiers in training and operations for heat, load, cognitive readiness, altitude, hydration, and alertness; and
  • Integration with combat casualty care diagnostics.

Contractors would design and evaluate an optimized multifunctional wearable physiological sensor that can quantify thermal work strain, changes in electromyography (EMG) that indicate muscular injury, and neurocognitive changes that suggest compromised cognitive function and predict illness. The sensors must also be able to store data for 72 hours, have an open architecture, weigh less than 2.5 ounces, and encrypt data.

The project includes testing of the prototype device in a lab as well as in the field, design for manufacturing, manufacturing setup costs, and a first article run. The Army is looking for modified versions of pre-existing technology.

The Army put out the request through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC). Members of the consortium, which includes industry, academic and nonprofit organizations can compete by submitting white papers by July 2. The Army will then select proposals for further consideration and invite the winning teams to submit a full proposal in Stage 2. The procurement will use Other Transaction Authority to compete the requirements.

The Army will select a winner that demonstrates the ability to achieve the technical objectives, and has set aside some Defense Health Agency research funds to help with subsequent development. The request for proposals is projected for July-August.

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