Army-funded research has resulted in the development of a programmable fibre that could transmit data from military uniforms - alerting to an injury or presence of harmful toxins.
Researchers at the Army’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed the first fibre with digital capabilities.
The fibre can sense, store, analyse and infer activity when sewn into a piece of clothing.
The programmable fibre is thin and flexible and can pass through a needle, be sewn into fabrics, and be washed at least 10 times without breaking down.
With this analytic power, the fibres someday could sense and alert Soldiers in real-time to health changes like a respiratory decline or an irregular heartbeat, or deliver muscle activation or heart rate data during training exercises.
It could also provide data on any toxins Soldiers are exposed to, the length of time they are exposed, and monitor any effects those toxins have on their physiology.
“This groundbreaking research, with other research underway at the ISN, could revolutionise Soldier uniforms,” said Dr. James Burgess, ISN program manager for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “We could outfit our Soldiers with uniforms that could generate power, give them vital information about their physiology and environmental exposures, provide their location to their team and alert someone if they incur an injury.
"All of this could be done with very little increase in weight carried by the Soldier.”