Army tech could analyze soldiers' mental state

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“Changing gear”

A new system that monitors the brain activity of soldiers in the field could improve the way that troops process information and make decisions. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Army and Honeywell are working on the wireless technology.

The augmented cognition system uses neuro-physiological sensors that assess a warfighter’s attention by measuring and recording brain activity and body responses, including heart rate, and adapting to his preferred learning style.

Using that data, the system will then influence the way the soldier gets information, according to a Jan. 17 statement from the Army’s Natick Soldier Center in Natick, Mass. The technology will help individual warfighters determine the most important information available and decide the best course of action in varying environments.

“The technology we are developing will ultimately help warfighters when they are faced with information overload, especially under stress, and will significantly improve mission performance,” said Henry Girolamo, the Natick Soldier Center’s DARPA agent for the Army’s Augmented Cognition Program.

The system will be primarily closed-loop, which means it will interpret a soldier's cognitive, emotional, and physical state and then prioritize information through the system for the soldier alone. But it can be designed to be open-looped, meaning it would funnel information from the warfighter to someone in another location.

The wireless technology will be integrated into communications, computer, and intelligence systems under development in the Army’s Future Force Warrior, a program that uses next-generation protection, communications and firepower technologies that makes soldiers better protected and lethal in combat. The service hopes to incorporate the technology into Future Force Warrior by 2007.

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