The vision for the future soldier is to be combat effective and also highly mobile, adaptive, networked, sustainable with total battle space situation awareness and information assurance. Therefore, he is equipped with night- vision goggles, radios, smartphones, GPS, infrared sights, a laptop as well as batteries to power them. All of Sensors and peripherals generate data which could provide useful information to the higher hierarchical levels.
Therefore there is requirement of Soldier Personal Area Networks (PAN) that shares that data between different sensors. A personal area network (PAN) is a computer network organized around an individual person, and that’s set up for personal use only. A master-slave device relationship can take place in a PAN where a number of devices connect to the “main” device called the master.
Wearable Biosensors are being developed that measure EEG, ECG, and EMG (electroencephalograms, electrocardiograms, and electromyography, tests which monitor brain, heart, and muscle activity). Personal Area Networks (PAN) allow vital and health parameters can be monitored using appropriate sensors distributed on its body, and sent to a wireless controller.
There is also requirement of Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4) including conformable & wearable antennae and wearable computers and Individual soldier combat ready displays. Army Research Laboratory is working on a wearable ultra-lightweight computer with a flexible display to fix to a soldier’s wrist, which will act as a hub for sending and receiving vital information.
At squad level, new capabilities could be added using spatial distribution of sensors and their interoperability; Soldier squads (equipped with PDA, cameras , …) should be able to provide C2 chain with sensors and localization information; The soldier network will need to integrate several custom and COTS peripherals that comply with different international standards.
Soldier Body Area Networks technology
Technologies used in body area networking continue to evolve quickly as the field remains in early stages of maturity. Higher frequency bands (above 60GHz) provide high bandwidth , High atmospheric absorption provides excellent immunity to interference, offers high security, and allows re-use of the same frequencies in relatively close locations.
Technological advances in IP standards, communication means, computational platforms and situational awareness SW make available a huge number of sensors and peripherals. The situational awareness of the soldier can be drastically improved through distributed and cooperative sensor networks with wearable sensors.
Two-way radio clipped to molar is set to boost battlefield communications
The US air force has joined forces with California-based company Sonitus Technologies to develop the ‘Molar Mic’ — a personal communication system that replaces the traditional two-way radio and allows you to hear without actually using your ears. The US government has committed about $10 million to manufacture and distribute the devices that could revolutionise battlefield communications.
The encrypted, wireless device is small in size and able to withstand harsh weather conditions. The mic simply clips to the user’s back tooth and transmits sound using bone matter. A statement released by Sonitus claimed the Molar Mic is embedded with a tiny microphone and speaker transducer for hearing in a “compact, custom-fit mouthpiece that snaps comfortably around a user’s back teeth”.
Incoming sound is transmitted through the user’s teeth and jawbone to auditory nerves. Outgoing sound is sent to another small transmitter which hangs from the user’s neck and can be sent anywhere. “The result is an unobstructed head and face, clear communication, higher comfort, enhanced situational awareness and the ability to add or remove personal protective equipment without breaking communication,” the statement said.
Sonitus chief executive Peter Hadrovic said the Molar Mic was a game changer in military technology and would make soldiers “safer and more effective by enabling them to communicate clearly — even in the most extreme situations”. “The voice interface sustains communications in dangerous and challenging environments,” he said
Speaking to military website Defence One, Mr Hadrovic explained that the brain adjusts to comprehending conversations which are transmitted through bone over time. “Over the period of three weeks, your brain adapts and it enhances your ability to process the audio,” he said.
Soldier in Bubble” Project Raises Great Interest
Raytheon, in conjunction with the U.S. military’s Special Operations command, has been developing the prototype for a new stealthy system that effectively creates a very short-range communications bubble around any individual warfighter.
The goal of the so-called “Soldier in a Bubble” project is a secure, low-intercept and low-detection probability communications network tying together things like a tactical radio, a head-mounted display, body sensors, range finders, a headset, and more, which is also lighter and has less of a snag factor than current gear. The system utilizes near-field magnetic waves rather than radio-frequency waves.
The system, which is still at the proof of concept stage, utilizes near-field magnetic waves rather than radio-frequency waves, according to fastcompany.com. According to Anne-Marie Buibish, the Raytheon certified systems architect and senior engineering fellow leading the research, the system would have a range of about six feet, meaning that it would be nearly impossible for an enemy to detect, let alone intercept, yet it would be ideal for things like giving a field medic instant wireless data about a wounded comrade. Existing Bluetooth-based communications systems have a range of about 100 meters or so, making them much easier to detect and intercept, Buibish says.
Using a central hub, the Soldier in a Bubble system brings together signals from all the different sensors and communications tools–each of which would have an on-board adapter–and can convert them to more conventional, secure systems for transmitting to an operations headquarters, other soldiers, or anyone else a soldier would need to talk to.
At the same time, soldiers within a single unit could benefit from the system by being able to communicate a wide range of data silently. “You could be pretty stealthy,” Buibish says, “if you had several soldiers together. They could communicate and share data without having to go over their tactical radios.”
The system would work perfectly if someone was wounded in the field and a medic also outfitted with the technology came to help. As the bubbles overlap, the system could instantly and automatically transmit medical data from bio-sensors mounted on the wounded soldier’s body to the medic, saving time and making it easy for the medic to get a quick sense of what is wrong.
Buibish says the system would work perfectly if someone was wounded in the field and a medic also outfitted with the technology came to help. As the bubbles overlap, she explains, the system could instantly and automatically transmit medical data from bio-sensors mounted on the wounded soldier’s body to the medic, saving time and making it easy for the medic to get a quick sense of what is wrong.
Another use case is data sharing in the field between members of partner forces, like those from another branch of the military or from an allied country using different communications equipment. That data could include things like mission objectives or points on a map. Soldiers within a single unit will be able to communicate a wide range of data silently.
For now, Soldier in a Bubble is a proof of concept, and it’s far too early to tell when or even if the military will adopt it. But Buibish says the near-field communications technology behind the system has been proven out in countless commercial situations.