From Flat Tires To Wounded Warriors

Totally awesome new technology breakthrough for treating hemorraging patients from the battlefield to the obstetrics ward.

Popular Science reports how a pocket-size syringe filled with sponges can stop bleeding in seconds.

Instead of having to apply wads of gauze and apply pressure”that doesn’t always work…[and] medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again,” the injection of sponges into the wound “boosts survival and spares injured soldiers from additional pain.”

This same technology developed by RevMedx for the military is being adapted for postpartum hemmorages, and I would imagine could eventually be used in other serious bleeding cases whether caused by accident, trauma, in surgery, or other medical necessity.

The sponges are about 1-centimeter circles and are coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance.

Once injected, the sponges expand to about 20 times their size to fill the wound, apply enough pressure to stop the bleending, and clings to moist surfaces, so they aren’t forced out by gushing blood.

The sponges have X-shaped markers on each that are visible on an x-ray image to ensure none are left inside.

The solution is sterile, biocompatible and in the future may be biodegradable so they don’t have to be removed from the body.

And to think that the inspiration was Fix-a-Flat foam for emergency tire repair. ;-)

Halo Arrives To Our Warfighters

So excited about the Army’s experimental Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).

This is really our fast, strong, and agile fighting force of the future.

The integration of technologies for the individual warfighter, including sensors, exoskeleton body armor, weapon systems, communications, and monitoring of health and power makes this an unbelievable advance.

I think the MIT research on magnetorheological fluids–which convert from liquid to solid body armor in milliseconds (sort of like Terminator 2) with a magnetic field or electric current (controlled, so the enemy doesn’t bog down the forces) is a true game changer for balancing agility and force protection.

In the future, I believe these suits will even incorporate capabilities to drive, dive, and fly.

This will complement unmanned swarms of dumb drones with intelligent human fighters that will take the battlefield on Earth and beyond. ;-)

Warrior Augmentation

Warrior Augmentation

I love the direction DARPA is going in with robotic exoskeletons for our warfighters.

Helping soldiers perform their jobs easier, more capably, and with less injury using human augmentation is good sense.

Military men and women often carry weight in excess of 100 pounds for long distances and perform other tasks that challenge human physical endurance.

Creating a durable “soft, lightweight under[or over]suit that would help reduce injuries and fatigue and improve soldiers ability to efficiently perform their missions” is an smart and achievable goal, and one that would give us great advantage in the battlefield.

The timeframe of 2012-2016 is an aggressive deadline to form the mix of core technologies, integrate them, and develop a wearable prototype.

I think the goal of having this be “potentially wearable by 90% of the U.S. Army population” is notable as not something that is for just special forces or unique missions, but rather something that can medically protect and make for a superior fighting force for all of our men and women.

This is really only the beginning of human augmentation with sensors, storage, processors, and robotics to make our warriors fight with the best that both man and machine has to offer. It’s not a fight of man versus machine, but of man and machine.

Seeing and hearing farther and with more clarity, connecting and communicating timely and under all conditions, processing loads of data into actionable information, fighting and performing mission with superior skills (strength, speed, dexterity, and endurance) and integrated weapon systems, guiding warriors to their targets and home safely–these are goals that man-machine augmentation can bring to reality.

And of course, the sheer medical and rehabilitative benefits of these technologies in caring for the sick and disabled in society is enough to “pedal to metal” drive these efforts alone.

Like on the prescient show from the 70′s, The Six Million Dollar Man, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology…Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.”

And I would add healthier and more deadly! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to DARPA and Boston Dynamics)

Teamwork or Telework?

Teamwork or Telework?

Clive Thompson makes an interesting point in Wired (15 May 2013) on productivity versus creativity.

He says that people seem more creative when interacting with other people in a group, and more productive when left alone to get their work done.

Hence, he advocates for telework to improve individual productivity, but basically only after the team first gets together to figure out what creative things they should be doing.

While I agree that group interchange can be good for bouncing ideas around and sparking innovation, and that with some quiet time, people can plow through a lot of work on their own–this is only a very narrow perspective.

Really, very often, the exact opposite is true….think about it.

When alone, and with some quiet time to think, you may come up with some of your best and most creative ideas. That is because the pressure is off to strut your stuff with the others, the groupthink is gone, and you can concentrate and free associate. Inventors, writers, painters, and other creative types come up with some of the best innovations, when they are left alone to do their thing.

Similarly, when people are in a group, they can often be much more productive than when working alone. Whether in mass producing good as a team in a factory, as team mates in sports passing and scoring, as warfighters waging battle side by side, and even as the construction crew in the picture above putting up a brand new high-rise building–people, when working together, can do amazingly great and productive things.

So yes, while at times groups can spark creativity among each other and quiet time can be good for getting (some paper) work done, often the exact opposite is true–and the group can produce in quantity and quality and the individual can think, experiment, and truly innovate.

Group and individual work is not correlated one for one with creativity and productivity–it all depends on what you are trying to get done.

But either way, you need both telework and teamwork to think and produce. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Underwear, It Can Go Either Way

Superman

While the title of this blog may be humorous, the subject matter is not.

Not since Superman has humankind been so intent on creating the perfect shielded clothing.

In superman’s case, his bold blue and red outfit was lined with lead to protect him from the deadly radioactive Kryptonite, which came to earth in a meteorite from his exploded planet Krypton.

Today, the U.S. armed forces are creating their own ever superior protective suits for its warfighters.

In recent times, with the threats of improvised explosive devices in the wars overseas, the U.S. is seeking to enhance the protective armor of its underwear.

In fact, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, “In 2010, 259 service members in war zones were injured in the genital area.”

The military’s answer is a new protective bomb-resistant brief for men and women–sometimes called ballistic briefs or shrapnel shorts.

The bomb-resistant briefs being tested traditionally were made from materials such as DuPont’s Kevlar, however, the Department of Defense is finding that tightly-woven silk is much more comfortable.

Due to the Berry Amendment of 1941 that requires the military to purchase food and uniforms from domestically produced material, the military is looking for a waiver in order to get the needed silk from Asia.

Interestingly enough, unlike the Underwear Bomber who tried to use his underpants as a hiding place for explosives in 2009 to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight, the ballistic briefs are intended to protect people from explosive devices.

The ballistic briefs are serious business–according to Bloomberg, the Army intends to buy 750,000 pairs and 250,000 cup protectors over the next 5 years.

The stopping power of the new protective underpants would even make Superman jealous, although the DoD version doesn’t come in bright colored red.

(Source Photo: here)

Tougher Than An iPad

Panasonic unveiled their ToughPad this week–the FZ-A1.This is a hardened device ready for outdoor use. Rated for MIL-STD-810G, the device is 4′ shock-resistant, rated for extreme temperatures, and is resistant to water and dust with IP65 sealed design.Currently comes in 10″ size, but the FZ-B1 device is slated for a smaller 7″ screen in Q2 2012.

The toughPad packs a lot of punch: This is an Android 3.2 device with 1.2 GHz dual core,1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage, 2 cameras (back 5 megapixel and front 2 megapixel), anti-glare multitouch screen 768 x 1024 megapixels, a 10 hour repalceable battery, USB, GPS, WIFI 802.11, Bluetooth, and optional 3G mobile broadband.

Optional accessories for vehicle mounting and hands-free holsters.

Priced at around $1299.

Great option for the warfighter, law enforcement and homeland security professional as well as others working in challenging environments.

Robots Are Not Just For Fighting

“The AlphaDog Proto is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System [LS3], a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012.”
According to Boston Dynamics, AlphaDog will follow a leader with computer vision or travel via GPS to designated locations. 
The video shows a truly amazing display of the robot galloping, traversing obstacles, recovering from being pushed, and even rolling over and getting up from a supine position. 
 AlphaDog is designed as a true workhorse and resembles something more out of a Mad Max movie than what you would think of as supporting our next generation war fighters. Note: I’ll take a flying hovercraft with pinpoint fire laser ray beams over a 4-legged robot workhorse any day!  :-)
But with the array of sensors and weapons supported by drones flying overhead and robotics sentries on the ground, and 4-legged robots ferrying supplies to the front lines, the battlefield is quickly changing to man and machine fighting side by side, and maybe one day machines fighting in lieu of people. 
While MIT Technology Review states “This is just what soldiers need,” I’m interested in seeing future applications of these robots not just for the military, but also in terms of how they will change areas such as law enforcement, fire and rescue, construction, assembly-line production, transportation, medicine, service industries, and more.  
Robots are not just for fighting, although it looks like AlphaDog could give anyone a good kick in the teeth and keep on lugging its load. 

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

Very cool new military technology by BAE Systems called Adaptiv–it’s an invisibility cloak (yes, we now have the technology of the Klingon Empire at our disposal!)
Hexagonal pixel plates are affixed to tanks (and soon battle ships) and these can change temperatures to be invisible to infra-red sensors and confuse heat seeking missiles.
Moreover, onboard cameras pick up surrounding scenarios and can display this onto the vehicle’s pixels, so that the military vehicles blend right into their environs.
Another trick, is that that the pixels can display alternate images to masquerade itself– so a tank is now a simple car or even a cow (according to Wired UK, 6 September 2011).
Like the Trojan Horse, I can only imagine what a military power could do by fully exploiting this capability–whether through the conduct of hit and run maneuvers or by invading and conquering  an unsuspecting foe.
This is the emergence of a whole new era of war-fighting capabilities, where camouflage is no longer just covering yourself with the basic elements, but rather where technology is used to create a virtual reality that masks the true physical.
On the battlefield, this technology will enable us to seemingly be there one minute, and gone the next (machines and people)–that’s technology magic that even Houdini would be envious of.
And yet, this is still just the beginning…we are only now bordering on the capabilities inherent in the Star Trek holodeck–where whole alternate environments are just a simulation away.

Robot Fighters Coming Soon

Maars
I love keeping up with the latest in robotics, especially when it comes to battlefield versions.
The Wall Street Journal (19 August 2011) featured QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) today as “America’s Newest Soldiers.”
MAARS features tank treads, days and night vision cameras, a 4-barrel 40mm high-explosive grenade launcher, and a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
“It can stand sentry at a checkpoint and warn people away with a police style hailer, a nonblinding laser, tear gas or smoke grenades.  As a last resort, it can fire lethal rounds.”
Watching this thing, I imagine the D Day landings in Normandy would’ve looked a lot different with a swarm of these fellows landing on those bullet-riddled beaches.
The nature of the fight is changing and whoever stands in front of one of these armed robots (and even better next generation versions to come) better be prepared to say “bye bye, it was nice knowing you.”  ;-)
(Source Photo: here)

Armored Skin

Bodyguard
(Source Photo: CrunchGear)
Not just for super heroes in comic books anymore, ArmStar has invented a new non-lethal weapon called the BodyGuard.  
It was invented by David Brown, a cameraman, editor, and producer, and supposed friend of Kevin Costner.
The idea of the encased ballistic nylon arm glove is that if you are wearing the weapon, you won’t drop it or easily be disarmed by your opponent. 
According to CrunchGear (31 May 2011), “The BodyGuard is an armored gauntlet with a 500,000-volt stunner protruding from the back of the hand, with room for any number of other weapons of self defense.”
Aside from the stun gun, current prototypes come equipped with video camera, laser pointer, and flashlight; and future versions are envisioned to have chemical sensors, GPS, biometric readers, translators, and more. 
I would imagine, you could also install things like mace or smoke that can be dispensed into action at the push of a button (with safety). 
This is why the BodyGuard is seen not only as a weapon, but also as a weapons platform, with an actuator pressure pad in the palm of the hand controlling the release of the weapons. 
The menacing display of voltage between the electrodes on the wrist, the green laser target on one’s chest, as well as knowing that you may be videotaped (along with the possibility of other embedded weapons) can make the BodyGuard a useful tool for law enforcement to help prevent and defuse confrontations, deter criminals, and save lives.  
The BodyGuard won a Popular Science 2011 Invention Award and according to their magazine “the first demo unit will be released to the Los Angeles sheriff’s department later this year.”
While I think the non-lethal version is promising for law enforcement, a lethal version for our military seems like a another market and next step in delivering ergonomic and flexible battle gear to our war fighters. 
I think there is also potential here for non-weaponized versions, for commercial and personal use–where ever and whenever body protection and quick access to tools and gadgets are needed–construction, manufacturing, even mountain climbing!
Finally, while having this is nice on one arm, I think this could be expanded for modules for both arms, legs, and so forth. 
This has a lot of potential, and I wish I had one of these when riding the IRT subway late in the evenings in NYC as a kid…it would have been nice to hit the pressure button and watch the volts arc and the bad guys just run the other way.