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Enhancing Performance and Safety: The Role of Wearable Technology in Modern Military Operations

In recent years, smart wearable devices like Google glasses, smart bracelets, and VR have become more popular. These devices can connect with computers, the Internet, and other devices to help people better understand their environment. In the future, wearable technology will be fully integrated into clothing through the use of conductive fibers, 3D printed structures, and advanced materials like graphene.


One of the most significant areas where wearable technology is making a profound impact is the military. Military wearables are smart electronic devices and equipment incorporated into a soldier’s clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories. Wearables have been used in the military for a while now, with the aim of enhancing performance and safety in modern military operations. Military wearables provide critical information to soldiers and commanders in real-time, enhancing situational awareness and decision-making capabilities. The integration of smart textiles in military wearables further enhances the capabilities of soldiers on the battlefield.

For in-depth understanding on Wearable technology and applications please visit: Wearable Technology: Trends, Challenges, and Future Directions

Military Wearables

Military wearables are becoming increasingly popular among modern military forces. These advanced wearable devices are designed to enhance the effectiveness and safety of soldiers in the field. They provide real-time data on a range of metrics including health, fitness, location, and communications.


Here are some of the benefits of using military wearables:

  • Increased situational awareness: Wearable devices can provide soldiers with real-time information about their surroundings, such as the location of enemies, friendly forces, and hazards. This information can help soldiers to make better decisions and to avoid danger.
  • Enhanced physical capabilities: Wearable devices can enhance a soldier’s strength, endurance, and speed. This can help soldiers to carry heavier loads, to move more quickly, and to fight more effectively.
  • Improved communication: Wearable devices can provide soldiers with a more reliable and secure way to communicate with each other and with command headquarters. This can help to improve coordination and to make it easier for soldiers to get the help they need when they need it.
  • Reduced risk of injury: Wearable devices can monitor a soldier’s vital signs and provide early warning of potential injuries. This can help to reduce the risk of serious injury or death.


Wearable technology can be beneficial for military personnel, providing them with an edge in combat situations. For example, smartwatches can be used by Air Force pilots and crew members to identify dangerous fatigue during flights. Sustained fatigue can have a significant impact on a pilot’s ability to maintain stability and coordination during maneuvers, which could result in serious consequences.


Biometric Sensors for Health Monitoring

Biometric sensors are a type of wearable technology that can be used for remote health monitoring in military personnel. These sensors are printed onto a stretchable film using conductive inks, allowing them to be added to almost any fabric and incorporated into military gear without restricting movement.

Biometric sensors can detect various types of biometric data, such as EKG, ECG, and EEG, providing real-time feedback on soldiers’ health. By monitoring vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, biometric sensors can alert medical professionals to potential health issues or injuries, even when soldiers are out in the field.

One of the key benefits of biometric sensors is their ability to provide remote access to critical patient information. This allows medical professionals to monitor soldiers’ health from a remote location, ensuring that they receive the care they need, even in challenging and dangerous situations.

Overall, biometric sensors offer a promising solution for remote health monitoring in military personnel, improving their safety and wellbeing in the field.


Thin and Flexible Heaters in Military Clothing

Thin and flexible heaters are a type of heating technology that can be integrated into military clothing. They use silver and carbon conductive inks that can be heat transferred or sewn into the fabric of gloves, pants, jackets, helmets, and boots. One of the main benefits of these heaters is that they provide warmth in any weather condition, ensuring the comfort and safety of military personnel. Additionally, printed heaters are much more comfortable and mobile than traditional wired heaters, which can be constricting and uncomfortable. Overall, printed heaters are a useful technology for ensuring the well-being of military personnel in cold environments.


Tracking Devices RFID tag

RFID tags are commonly used in retail stores to help with inventory management, but they also have a range of applications in the military. By attaching a tag to an inventory item, person, or product, security can be enhanced through real-time tracking.

Printed antennas can be made to send signals to receptors located throughout a building or ship, allowing for seamless tracking of items or people in motion. These tags can be programmed to sound an alarm if they leave or enter restricted areas, improving security in sensitive locations. The tags can also be inserted onto small objects or added into clothing, making them a versatile tool for military operations.


Performance Monitoring

Another use of wearables for military personnel is performance monitoring. Smart clothing with the use of biometric sensors can monitor the performance levels of individuals.

Performance monitoring is the use of wearables equipped with biometric sensors to track and measure an individual’s physical and physiological responses to various activities or stressors. In the military context, these wearables are used to monitor the performance levels of soldiers in the field, providing real-time data on muscle activity, muscle fatigue, muscle symmetry, heart and breathing rates, speed, acceleration levels, and distance traveled.

By analyzing this data, military leaders can make more informed decisions about individual soldier readiness, deployment, and training needs. This information can also be used to identify potential health issues or injuries, allowing for early intervention and treatment. In addition to biometric sensors, capacitive touch and force-sensitive resistors can be added to military devices to enhance their functionality in harsh environments.


US Army

The US Army is using commercial wearable devices to monitor the performance and health of individual soldiers. The Army is collaborating with the US Army Medical Research and Development Command on two science and technology projects aimed at assessing the viability of wearable devices to improve soldier health and fitness.

The projects include DEVCOM’s Optimising the Human Weapon System project and the Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness programme.

  • DEVCOM’s Optimising the Human Weapon System (OHWS) project is a research and development effort that is using wearable technology to collect data on soldier performance. This data is then used to develop new training and equipment that can help soldiers to perform more effectively and to stay safer in combat. The project is led by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Soldier Center, and it is funded by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM).
  • The Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness (MASTRE) programme is a collaboration between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force that is using wearable technology to assess soldier readiness and effectiveness. This information is used to identify areas where soldiers need additional training or equipment, and to develop new programs that can help soldiers to improve their performance. The programme is led by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), and it is funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC).


The wearable devices used in these projects include Polar GRIT X Pro watches, Inertial Measurement Units from APDM, TASCAM audio recorders and MILES Vest and Halo chest and helmet devices for engagement data and shot detection. The devices are intended to guide the development of training plans for soldiers. The US Army is also considering integrating data from personal wearable devices purchased by individual soldiers.


Both of these projects are still in their early stages, but they have the potential to revolutionize the way the military operates. By using wearable technology to collect data on soldier performance, these projects can help the military to develop new training and equipment that can help soldiers to perform more effectively and to stay safer in combat.


The US Air Force has introduced a new program aimed at monitoring stress levels among first sergeants through specialized smartwatches and rings.

The wearable devices, issued to about 1,000 new first sergeants so far, monitor biometrics like temperature, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate. These metrics are translated into a score ranging from 1 to 12, with a rising score signaling the need for the wearer to seek rest or assistance. The program’s goal is to detect signs of stress before they become debilitating, allowing first sergeants to prioritize their mental health and well-being.

First sergeants, who play critical roles in advising commanders and handling personnel matters, often overlook their own mental health while focusing on the welfare of others. The wearable devices provide an objective measurement of stress levels, prompting wearers like Master Sgt. Jacob Mulders to take more breaks and manage stress more effectively.

The program, part of the Diamond Care Continuum initiative, offers various support measures beyond wearables, including mandatory rest days, annual check-ins, and monthly training sessions. The data collected by the wearables are not used for research purposes, ensuring privacy and confidentiality for participants. Overall, the program represents a proactive approach by the Air Force to support the mental health and well-being of its first sergeants, recognizing the challenges they face in their demanding roles.


Military wearables market

The market for military wearables — defined as smart electronic devices and equipment incorporated into a soldier’s clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories — is projected to grow from $3.1 billion in 2022 to $3.4 billion by 2027, at a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.8%, according to a new report by MarketsandMarkets, “Military Wearables Market.”


Armed forces from various nations around the world have been working to empower their soldiers with innovative technologies like advanced head mounted displays, body diagnostics sensors, advanced personal clothing, improved navigation & communication devices, and other types of military wearables in an effort to increase the level of protection for their soldiers.


New and advanced military wearables have been developed to improve the combat capabilities of the soldiers because of advancements in networked soldier technology and future soldier clothing. As the geopolitical divergence among nations increases, soldiers are being upgraded to achieve tactical superiority, which has increased the use of advanced weaponry technology to assure their protection from threats.


Global manufacturers of military wearables are continually aiming to provide a range of advanced technologies in the areas of communication and intelligence to help soldiers take immediate action and strategically on the battlefield. Companies creating modern military wearables have a strong emphasis on creating integrated modular military wearables to address deficiencies in lethality, mobility, survivability, sustainability and C4I. Defense forces from several nations are working to design and produce materials with ballistic content or even superior properties. When injured soldiers are unable to transmit a message for help, advanced technologies come in useful. In these situations, smart clothing recognises the concerns and delivers the appropriate messages via radio communication devices.


Based on end user, the land forces are projected to witness highest market share on account of the current design features of military wearable which augment the augment the capabilities of the land forces as the soldiers are constantly exposed to hazardous working conditions leading to an increased risk of loss of life.


Based on technology, the video & surveillance segment is projected to lead the military wearables market during the forecast period. Companies have been undertaking extensive research to develop integrated military wearables with enhanced capabilities to provide soldiers with survivability, sustainability, safety, mobility, command, control, communication, and intelligence. Advancements in the technology for military wearables has helped soldiers combat the tough situations whether it is war or weather. The new generation of night vision goggles is designed to provide improved vision in various environments, including dust, smoke, zero illumination, and subterranean. Thus, thermal cameras and night vision goggles are being widely adopted among soldiers, thereby driving the growth of the vision & surveillance segment of the market.


Based on wearables type, the headwear segment is projected to lead the military wearables market during the forecast period. There is huge demand due to the integration of the headwear with advanced technology (Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)) is the driven factor for wearables segment. Modern military wearables include a fire control computer, an integrated camera, and a display for enhanced low-light capability. For instance, Surface Optics Corporation developed a 3D camera technology for multispectral imaging that captures the information required to generate complete multispectral cubes with each focal plane exposure.


Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share in 2022 due to enhanced adoption driven by threats such as terrorism, cross-border disputes, and sensitive multi-cultural issues. Most countries in the region envision to ensure infantry soldiers have increased lethality, survivability, and mobility while becoming self-contained combat machines. Increased defence expenditure and investments in the modernisation of various law enforcement agencies in these countries are also boosting the growth of the military wearables market in the region.


Major players operating in the military wearables market are BAE Systems PLC (UK), Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel), Rheinmetall AG(Germany), Thales Group (France), Saab AB (Sweden), Aselsan A.S (Turkey), General Dynamic Corporation (US) are some of the market players.



In conclusion, wearable technology is transforming the military and enhancing the performance and safety of military personnel. Military wearables are still in their early stages of development, but they have the potential to revolutionize the way warfare is conducted. By providing soldiers with real-time information and enhancing their physical capabilities, wearables can help them to make better decisions, perform more effectively, and stay safer in combat.


With the integration of smart textiles, wearable technology is set to become even more unobtrusive and seamlessly integrated into the fabric of military life. As wearable technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see further advancements that will transform military operations and enhance the capabilities of soldiers on the battlefield.



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