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AFRL Develops Pulse Oximetry Sensors to Aid Defense Personnel

The Air Force Research Laboratory is collaborating with industry for advancing a system that has the potential to detect a military personnel’s health condition under battle constraint, by using wearable or digestible sensors, comments Elizabeth Long of the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Air Force.

AFRL has aligned with North-American based QinetiQ Technology Solution Group to devise the Battlefield Automatic Life Status Monitor (BALSM). This device will facilitate the pararescue soldier or medics in a different area to identify the physiologic health condition of military personnel for triage or protection applications. It also generates a history of health conditions periodically for each of the personnel being evaluated.

The prime wearable sensor can be located in the forehead within a helmet or headband and is a wire-free pulse oximetry devise which quantifies the oxygen present in the blood and validates the respiration as well as the heart rate.

The secondary sensor can be ingested within the body by means of a wire-free capsule for monitoring the thermal condition of the body. The data thus gathered is relayed via a radio receiver and sensing software to a computer system.

The pulse oximetry sensing unit is capable of producing visible as well as infrared light that get scattered off the skull to generate a pulse. In most of the cases, the pulse oximetry is calculated through the finger, but the scientists explored a different position on the body, eliminating hands or arms interference.

This pulse oximetry unit features an accelerometer for identifying the position of the military person whether he is sitting, lying down, standing or moving. This functionality will allow the soldier to understand the status of the respiration and heart rate and also the level of physiological functions performed by them.

This project is organized by the AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing under the Human Effectiveness Directorate.

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