USAF Wants Wearables to Spot Outbreaks Faster

Top officials are also looking into data integration and digital traceability tools to help keep staff healthy.

Members of the U.S. Air Force and its Readiness Management Agency are exploring commercially provided proximity tracing options, data integration services, and biometric-capturing wearable devices that can alert people to possible sickness early on. 

Such capabilities could support the branch’s Pandemic Case Management Suite, or an operational requirement intended to bolster its fight against COVID-19 and future biological outbreaks by pinpointing symptoms and providing digital traceability of infected personnel, according to a recent request for information.

Specifically, the Air Force is looking to adopt industry-made technologies that can present data about wearers’ bodies such as “heart rate fluctuation, O2 levels, heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature, inter-beat interval, etc.,” the document notes. Capabilities would also need to identify and alert officials to potential infections early, through a user dashboard. The Air Force further intends to leverage solutions to track officials' proximity to one another when on the clock, and “data integration services, which will require the integration of dozens of commercial data streams.”All devices and products would be prohibited from performing any location tracking or collecting and storing personally identifiable information, and would need multiple mechanisms to protect and secure military personnel data.

Entities are invited to “provide a list of commercial technologies they are actively utilizing in the fight against pandemic viruses and other diseases,” and to address questions listed regarding explicit details about their products. The information is due by September 14.

This isn’t the first time the Air Force considered turning to wearables to monitor employees’ health. Its innovation unit, AFWERX, also released a notice for similar services last November.