UK-based Inova Design Solutions' Bodytrak system is set to undergo trials with the British Army and be used in support of a military charity expedition to Antarctica.
Bodytrak uses an in-ear device - akin to an audio earphone - to monitor vital signs from the human body, ultimately to include core body temperature, heart rate, VO 2 (oxygen consumption), and motion (speed, distance, cadence), and wirelessly transmits these data to an internet hub or a variety of devices, such as tablets.
The ability to measure core body temperature in a non-invasive manner is a key aspect of the system, Inova CEO Leon Marsh told IHS Jane's , noting that to get accurate temperature readings a telemetric pill is typically ingested at present.
The first field tests of the system are slated to take place in early 2017 - test bench work has already been conducted using UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) architecture. Initially Bodytrak will feature temperature and heart rate monitoring, with the blood oxygen and respiration capabilities expected in the second or third quarter of 2017.
Bodytrak uses a cloud-based data analytics package, from which real-time monitoring and assessment can be conducted as well as analysis.
According to Marsh, the Bodytrak earpiece does not interfere with existing in-service communications equipment electronically or ergonomically. But he notes that integration and qualification with original equipment manufacturers of soldier systems could present a challenge.
While Bodytrak could be used to conduct routine monitoring of personnel, Marsh has identified a potential application with combat medics, enabling them to gather key information on a casualty during treatment and evacuation.
One factor Marsh said he is aware of is the potential cognitive burden that monitoring data from the devices might place on wearers and commanders, noting that studies will be conducted into the best practice for operating the systems and who should have access to the data.
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