The British Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) are exploring potential use of wearable technology to prevent injury in the British Army. Before the launch, the DASA would explore market interest and help design a future competition. This will give them an understanding of currently available wearables for injury prevention and how to adapt them for military use in an innovative way, said DASA.
A study conducted in December 2017 showed that 19.8 percent of personnel in the British Army were medically downgraded for deployment. Among the injuries these soldiers sustained, the most common were musculoskeletal injury (MSKI), environmental injury (from heat and cold) and noise induced hearing loss (NIHL).
As the best sports teams work with a 7 to 12 percent margin for illnesses, the Commander Field Army wants to see 90 percent deployability. These figures not only represent human cost, but the rehabilitation of manpower capability accounts for significant money each year.
Using data science and technology, the British Army is seeking rapid innovations to improve the deployability and overall health of service personnel. Their goal is to use sensors that will give warnings before injury occurs in order to allow for early intervention and prevention of injuries.
For this market exploration, the British Army is focusing on 3 areas:
- MSKI prevention. MSKI or Musculoskeletal injury is the leading cause of medical discharge in the British Army. The study showed that 61 percent of the Army’s non-deployable personnel sustained MSKI, of which the average soldier took 9.5 months to fully recover
- Environmental injury prevention. Heat and non-freezing cold injuries (NFCI) accounted for 2.5 percent of downgraded service personnel
- NIHL prevention. NHL or Noise Induced Hearing Loss accounted for 5 percent of downgraded service personnel.
The DASA are interested in potential solutions that utilize science and technology as a means to prevent, not treat, injury in service personnel. They’re looking for novel methods to provide early warning or prevention methods for physical injury, specifically using practical wearable technology.
The DASA also welcomes new ideas involving novel approaches to the data management and subsequent identification of issues using existing technology.
In the long term any technology must be scalable across the whole force, and should be compatible with the realities of military usage, such as robustness, and cyber security, the DASA said.