AFFOA and the Defense Fabric Discovery Center (DFDC) at MIT Lincoln Laboratory developed 20 fully integrated physiological status monitoring headbands for a government sponsor. The sponsor was interested in being able to accurately monitor the physiological status of soldiers in a variety of environmental situations.
AFFOA and the DFDC developed a headband capable of monitoring heart rate, blood oxygenation (SPO2), and user motion with wireless data transmission capabilities along with a custom user-friendly smartphone application. A headband was chosen as the form factor because it guarantees accurate measurement while also reducing burden on the user since soldier helmets already contain a headband. In addition, a headband integrated into a helmet was an ideal solution for the high altitude jumpers for which the blood oxygenation sensing provides a critical health check during their missions.
This headband demonstrated one of the benefits of textile-based sensing, which is to put the measurement at the most appropriate place on the body. Placing sensing textiles on the forehead provides a higher fidelity signal than wrist-based optical sensing you might find in your smartwatch.
We are continuing to iterate on this system as well as developing a roadmap for physiological status monitoring which includes everything from monitoring core body temperature to a variety of other targeted, mission-based health metrics, and the ability to integrate these sensing capabilities into various textile form factors.