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Return to: 2015 Feature Stories

CLIENT: IDTECHEX

September/October, 2015: i3 It Is Innovation

i3 Sidebar on Wearables, September/October Issue

By:

James Hayward
Research Analyst
IDTechEx

Practical Applications in Wearable Technology for the Military and Law Enforcement

Historically, military wearable technology has been a process of adding new systems to existing systems, making devices bloated, complex and heavy. For example, batteries cannot be discarded – they must be carried back to base for disposal to prevent use by hostiles.

New wearable technology is being used to redesign soldier and law enforcement systems with integration and functional optimization at the core. This includes flexible solar cells, wireless charging and other energy harvesting devices to charge batteries- which are now themselves thinner and conformal to the wearer.

Additionally, printed antennas integrated with textiles provide better omni directional performance and minimal visible signatures. Integrated conductive elements also enable infra-red shielding to minimize body heat signatures, and conductive textiles can replace heavy copper wiring - making the uniform become the circuit board.

Smart glasses are also a viable tool for the military, which started using these devices long before consumers. Advanced models feature micro displays, based on OLEDs, which offer information in the field of vision without having to hold a device.

On the horizon, the U.S. Army is in the process of developing flexible displays that can be embedded into uniform sleeves; and DARPA has funded work on flexible sensor systems that measure cumulative head trauma to prevent long-term damage before it becomes irreversible.

All in all, we can rest assured that we'll continue to see steady advancements to develop devices and systems that maximize efficiency and provide increased flexibility.

--James Hayward is Research Analyst, IDTechEx. Established in 1999, IDTechEx provides independent market research, business intelligence and events on emerging technology to clients in over 80 countries. IDTechEx is headquartered in Cambridge UK; additional offices are in Berlin, Boston and Tokyo.

Return to: 2015 Feature Stories