The Biometric Soldier: Diagnosing Brain Trauma in the Field of War

February 28, 2014 – by Peter B. Counter     

When we talk about vital biometrics, especially nowadays with OEMs all over the place wanting to throw focus on wearable smart gadgets, generally the conversation turns to fitness tech. This year alone there has been enough innovations in consumer vital biometrics to ensure even the lazy will be aware of their resting pulse, especially now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will sport a heart rate monitor under its rear facing camera.

Of course, fitness optimization, though great for encouraging an active and health population, seems trivial when considering other applications of vital biometrics, especially when it comes to war.

The US Army PEO Soldier Program has adopted a biometric solution for monitoring the condition of soldiers exposed to high levels of concussive blasting. It’s called the Blast Gauge System from BlackBox Biometrics, and after two years of extensive field testing in Afghanistan, the wartime solution has entered phase one of a massive deployment.

The PEO Soldier Program carries the mission statement to develop, acquire, field and sustain integrated state of the art equipment to improve what it refers to as soldier dominance in US Army operations. It’s an aggressive mission, but in the military there can be no other way. Nothing says field dominance like only ever sending out soldiers in peak condition, and vital biometrics were made for this job.

“…[The] Blast Gauge System provides an objective means for commanders to identify service members who have been exposed to a blast related concussive event, as well as supporting research efforts for blast induced traumatic brain injury,” says BlackBox Biometrics COO, Joe Bridgeford.

The biometric indicator is highly visible, with LED indicators, giving medics and leaders all of the information they need to evaluate whether a unit member has been exposed to too many concussive forces. It’s a kind of efficiency that ensures soldiers receive the right treatment in a timely fashion and aren’t sent back into action with mission compromising brain injuries.

This kind of thing is BlackBox Biometrics’ specialty. The company’s mission is to provide devices that can measure traumatic brain injury to a market that seems incredibly underserved. The Center for Disease Control refers to this specific type environmental brain ailment affects more than 1.7 million people annually and is treatable if the signs are recognized. Traumatic brain injuries account for almost a third of all injury related deaths.