The future of soldier wearables and how they will enhance military capabilities

In today's modern warfare, soldier wearables play a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of military personnel – both on the battlefield and off.
Abdul-Rahman Oladimeji Bello
Navy Seal
Navy Seal


The history of wearables in the military goes back centuries. By the late 1800s, soldiers were wearing various devices that could aid them in battle, including compasses, altimeters, and even thermometers. But it was in the 1960s that wearable military technology took off.

Now, in recent years we've seen a surge in interest in wearables for soldiers, thanks mainly to developments in technology like smaller batteries. Today, there are many types of soldier wearables used in militaries throughout the world. In this article, we will explore the concept of military wearables and how they enhance military capabilities. 

We will also address the ethical and legal considerations that arise from these advancements and discuss the responsibility that military organizations have in ensuring a balanced and responsible integration of these wearables.  

Current military wearables

In today's modern warfare, soldier wearables play a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of military personnel – both on the battlefield and off. Body armor, helmet technology, and communication devices are all designed to improve situational awareness and overall performance. Let's take a closer look at these current wearable technologies and their advantages and limitations.

Body armor

Body armor is a critical component of soldier wearables, protecting against bullets, shrapnel, and other threats on the battlefield. Modern body armor is made from advanced materials like Kevlar and ceramic composites, which are lightweight and can offer superior protection against various threats. There are numerous benefits of body armor, such as;

  • Increased survivability
  • Reduced injuries
  • Better adaptation

In contrast, some limitations involve restricted mobility and the potential for increased fatigue due to the added weight.

Helmet technology

Another wearable is helmet technology. This technology has evolved significantly, with modern military helmets incorporating various features to enhance soldier performance. Their features include;

  • Integrated communication systems
  • Night vision capabilities
  • Ballistic protection
  • Augmented reality displays. 

The advantages of advanced helmet technology are undeniable. The major ones are protection from impact force and head injuries and improved situational awareness and communication. However, the increased weight and complexity of these helmets may be seen as limitations, as they can cause discomfort and fatigue during prolonged use.

The future of soldier wearables and how they will enhance military capabilities
military helmet

Communication devices

Communication devices are another basic soldier wearable. They allow military personnel to stay connected with their team members and command centers. These devices include;

  • Radios
  • Earpieces
  • Integrated communication systems within helmets. 

Communication is crucial during missions–especially during conflict situations. The advantages of modern communication devices are clear;

  • They enable real-time information sharing
  • Improve coordination among team members
  • It can be used in various environments, including noisy or radio-signal-jammed areas.

A limitation of current communication devices is possible signal interference, as the technology is not always reliable in certain areas. Another limitation is the need for regular battery charging and potential security vulnerabilities if the devices are hacked or intercepted.

Researchers are working on improvements to support lightweight batteries, including the Conformal Wearable Battery, a thin, flexible, lightweight battery that can be worn on a soldier’s vest to power electronics.

These current soldier wearables can provide numerous advantages to military personnel. They are crucial regarding protection, situational awareness, and communication capabilities. As technology continues to advance, it is expected that future wearables will overcome their existing limitations and further enhance the capabilities of soldiers on the battlefield.

Future developments in soldier wearables

As technology continues to advance, the possibilities for future developments in soldier wearables are seemingly endless. Emerging technologies such as augmented reality, exoskeletons, and biometric sensors can potentially revolutionize how military personnel operate on the battlefield. Let's explore these cutting-edge innovations and highlight some ongoing research and development projects in the field of soldier wearables.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) technology overlays digital information onto the wearer's field of view. It provides real-time data and enhances situational awareness. In the context of soldier wearables, AR can be integrated into helmets or visors and displays critical information like navigation, enemy positions, and mission objectives. 

The future of soldier wearables and how they will enhance military capabilities
Augmented reality

We have seen technology like this in virtual mobile games, and having them on the battlefield could improve military capabilities in a similar way. Ongoing research projects, like the U.S. Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), aim to develop advanced AR systems that could revolutionize how soldiers perceive and interact with their environment.


Exoskeleton technology is another promising development in the field of soldier wearables. These wearable robotic systems are designed to enhance soldiers' strength, endurance, and mobility. This allows them to carry heavier loads and move more quickly on the battlefield. 

Several research and development projects, such as the U.S. Army's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) and Lockheed Martin's ONYX system, are exploring the potential of exoskeletons in military applications. These projects aim to create lightweight, efficient, and durable exoskeletons that can be seamlessly integrated into a soldier's gear.

Biometric Sensors

Biometric sensors are an essential component of future soldier wearables. They can monitor a soldier's vital signs and physiological data in real time. This is an underrated benefit on the battlefield and in training. These sensors can track heart rate, hydration levels, body temperature, and other critical parameters. 

They enable commanders to make informed decisions regarding their soldiers' well-being and fatigue levels. Research in this area includes the development of innovative fabrics that can be integrated into uniforms, providing continuous, non-invasive monitoring of a soldier's health status.

Enhancing military capabilities

The advancements in soldier wearables have the potential to significantly enhance military capabilities by improving situational awareness, communication, and mobility, ultimately leading to improved soldier performance and reduced risk of injury or death in combat. Here are some ways future soldier wearables can revolutionize military operations.

Improved situational awareness

Situational awareness is a critical component of military operations. It allows soldiers to understand their environment, assess potential threats, and make informed decisions. Future soldier wearables, such as augmented reality (AR) systems integrated into helmets or visors, can provide real-time data and enhanced visual information. This improved situational awareness will enable military personnel to make better decisions and react more quickly to changing circumstances on the battlefield.

Enhanced communication

Effective communication is paramount for military operations. It enables coordination, information sharing, and rapid decision-making. Future soldier wearables, such as advanced communication devices and integrated helmet systems, can facilitate seamless, secure, real-time communication among military personnel. 

The future of soldier wearables and how they will enhance military capabilities
Soldier in VR

Increased mobility

Mobility is a critical aspect of military capabilities. Future soldier wearables, such as exoskeleton technology, could enhance soldier mobility by providing additional strength, endurance, and support. This increased mobility has the potential to improve overall soldier performance. 

Injury prevention and performance improvement

Future soldier wearables could also help reduce the risk of injury or death in combat by providing advanced protection and real-time health monitoring. For instance, improved body armor can offer better protection against bullets and shrapnel. Meanwhile, biometric sensors can monitor vital signs and alert commanders to potential health risks or fatigue levels. These advancements in soldier wearables will improve performance and contribute to the safety of military personnel during combat and training operations.

Ethical and legal considerations

Future soldier wearables could revolutionize military operations by enhancing situational awareness, communication, and mobility, improving soldier performance, and reducing the risk of injury or death in combat. However, the increased use of soldier wearables raises ethical and legal considerations, such as privacy, autonomy, and accountability concerns.

By collecting and storing personal information, advanced soldier wearables may lead to a perceived loss of privacy. Technological assistance may also undermine soldier autonomy and responsibility. At the same time, questions of accountability may arise where technology plays a significant role in decision-making and action execution. 

For instance, if a soldier's actions are influenced by augmented reality systems or exoskeletons, who is ultimately responsible for the consequences of those actions? Military organizations must carefully consider the legal implications of using soldier wearables and establish clear guidelines for attributing responsibility in cases where technology plays a significant role in making decisions and executing actions.

To address these concerns, military organizations must take several measures to ensure the safety and privacy of the soldiers, such as;

  • Establish clear guidelines and policies for the use of soldier wearables
  • Conduct rigorous testing and evaluation of new technologies
  • Foster a culture of transparency.

Engaging with external stakeholders, such as ethicists, legal experts, and human rights organizations, can help anticipate and address potential challenges. These measures ensure that soldier wearables are developed and deployed responsibly while upholding the highest ethical and legal standards.


The future of soldier wearables is undoubtedly exciting, with emerging technologies such as augmented reality, exoskeletons, and biometric sensors set to enhance military capabilities significantly. As research and development projects continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, soldier wearables will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of warfare.

However, addressing the ethical and legal considerations that come with these advancements is crucial. Military organizations can address these concerns by developing clear guidelines, policies, and best practices and engaging with external stakeholders. Ultimately, this will enable the harnessing of advanced wearable technologies to enhance military capabilities while upholding the highest ethical and legal standards.

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