Australia is looking into equipping soldiers with a personal "black box" that would act as a combination data recorder and emergency beacon. Start-up telecommunications company Myriota and wearable technology company IMeasureU have been awarded AU$700,000 (US$567,000) by the Department of Defence to develop the device called the "Flight Recorder" to improve battlefield efficiency and survivability.

When an airplane vanishes unexpectedly from air traffic control's radar screens, hopes are pinned on two pieces of emergency equipment. In the early hours of the search, responders look for the signal from the automatic distress beacon designed to activate in the event of a crash. After the downed aircraft is discovered, the first priority after a search for survivors is to find the flight recorder or black boxes that store the flight data and cockpit communications prior to the incident.

In an announcement delivered on Thursday, Australia's Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne MP, said the Department of Defence wants to develop something similar for the individual warfighter. The Flight Recorder would be a soldier-worn system that acts as both a locator beacon and a data recorder.

Trauma specialists refer to the first hour after an injury is inflicted as the "golden hour." During this time, if proper medical treatment is provided, the chances of survival and recovery improve dramatically. With this in mind, providing a soldier with a personal beacon means that battlefield casualties can be found and treated much more rapidly, greatly reducing the odds of death or injuries becoming lifelong disabilities.

In addition, the DoD sees the Flight Recorder as a way to improve soldier efficiency by recording the individual's performance as well as the status of weapons, personal armor, and other equipment. The Department also sees the technology has having applications in the civilian sector, including for emergency services and law enforcement.

"Survival rates for battlefield casualties are closely tied to response times and the Fight Recorder will enable Defence to quickly locate and treat casualties," says Minister Pyne. "In addition to serving as a location beacon, the data captured by the Flight Recorder could be used to inform the design and performance of soldier equipment and protective wear."

Source:
Department of Defence