Client: Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Exposure to chemical and biological threats can severely impact a warfighters’ performance and survivability. By the time acute symptoms are experienced following exposure, warfighter performance has begun degrading and the time required for recovery is increasing. However, if a warfighter were able to receive an exposure warning based on their body’s pre-symptomatic response to a chemical or biological threat, he or she could visit a medic to receive diagnosis and treatment before the threat causes severe mission disruption.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is developing a suite of “wear-and-forget” sensors that monitor physiological and immunological indicators of chemical and biological exposure to provide an indication for further diagnostic testing prior to acute symptoms. The suite is not intended to provide a diagnostic capability itself – instead, the technology is seen as a “check engine light” for the warfighter. If the sensors identify variations from the wearer’s baseline that indicate a potential exposure, the warfighter would be notified to seek further screening and treatment.
There are, however, substantial challenges to overcome before this suite of wearables can be implemented. It is important to keep the sensors unobtrusive to the warfighter, and a better understanding is needed of the physiological and immunological changes that indicate chemical and biological exposure. To address these challenges, DTRA has tasked ANSER to help its wearables program team connect key government, industry, and academic stakeholders to meet program goals and actively fund research that answers questions surrounding baseline changes due to chemical or biological exposure. The ANSER team is enhancing the Nation’s security by providing the following critical input and structure to DTRA’s wearables program:
DTRA has accepted ANSER’s recommendations for the wearables program and has requested additional support from onsite ANSER staff. The Chief Scientist and Wearables Program Lead praised ANSER’s contributions saying, “to succeed the program requires team members with technical backgrounds that enable them to understand host-based wearable science and technology, the ability to grow the network of government, industry, and academic organizations involved with wearables, and possess the presentation skills necessary to convey this novel way of monitoring the warfighter to a variety of audiences. It’s a team effort and ANSER is a highly valued member in this endeavor.”