Fitness watches for the Bundeswehr: Biosensors are supposed to monitor soldiers

Fitness watches for the Bundeswehr
Biosensors are supposed to monitor soldiers

It is hard to imagine sport without it, why not also in the military: The heart rate and body temperature of Bundeswehr soldiers are to be monitored by biosensors during operations in the future. Not only can the stress level be monitored, but first aid can also be better coordinated.

Fitness watches and biosensors are developing rapidly and are also becoming increasingly important for soldiers. The Koblenz coordination office for the medical services of NATO and the EU is striving to set up an international center to advance projects with biosensors and identify dangers. Manipulation of data from fitness watches, irradiation of opposing soldiers with ultrasound – this is now also conceivable in armed forces.

The Multinational Medical Coordination Center / European Medical Command recently held a digital workshop on biosensors with 30 speakers and 130 participants in around 20 countries. Your director Stefan Kowitz reported: “The positive response has shown that we have hit the nerve of the times.” The participants emphasized that quality, robustness, data security and international cooperation in biosensors for soldiers had to be further developed.

Monika Rausch from the coordination office uses a fitness watch to monitor the route, speed and heart rate while jogging. “In sport, biosensors have long been indispensable, so why not also in the military? I am convinced that biosensors can improve military performance and support training in a meaningful way,” said the sports scientist with the rank of captain.

According to Generalarzt Kowitz, the industry has long been offering many technical solutions. “However, we have to concentrate on the urgent needs that further improve our medical service support on the battlefield or optimize the health performance and readiness of our emergency services,” added Kowitz in the Koblenz Rhine barracks. The Bundeswehr Medical Service Command and a laboratory with microscopes for analyzing tissue samples from wounded soldiers are also located here.

Data of injured soldiers are transmitted

Digital measuring sensors can be particularly important in dangerous applications. Lieutenant Alexander Schäbler said: “In the event of an event with many injured, the instant measurement and transmission of casualty data, i.e. the data of injured and wounded soldiers, can be ensured regardless of the individual human stress resistance level and thus save lives.” Data such as heart rate and body temperature should provide a quicker overview of who needs to be treated first and how. General doctor Kowitz explained: “In this way, a quick and conclusive picture of the situation arises in certain operational scenarios.” Corvette captain Rico Maderthoner also emphasized, however, that the digitally supported decision of who will receive life-saving treatment and who will not ultimately remain “not just a technical but also an ethical issue”.

In the case of NBC warfare agents, i.e. nuclear, biological and chemical warfare agents, according to Kowitz, biosensors integrated into uniforms, for example, could play a double role in the future: recognizing these dangers and at the same time monitoring the health data of soldiers. According to Maderthoner, the workshop showed how the military is already taking advantage of advances in biotechnology. Soldiers often have to “go to their performance limits and even beyond. Biosensors are supposed to simplify, consciously control and professionalize this process.”