The US DOD has invented a wearable that quickly identifies infections

The device will now be fitted to 360 first sergeants.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The DOD's latest wearable.jpg
The DOD's latest wearable.

The Department of Defense 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) invented a wearable during the pandemic that was extremely adept at identifying infections. 

This is according to a press release by the department published on Thursday.

Now the organization is ready to take the next steps in what it calls the Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure project, also known as the RATE program.

"The DOD invests heavily in maintaining the readiness of its workforce to conduct essential missions. However, the risk of infectious disease, like COVID-19, has long been an unpredictable variable. With RATE, the DOD can use commercial wearables to noninvasively monitor a service member's health and provide early alerts to potential infection before it spreads," said Jeff Schneider, program manager for RATE.

The new program uses an artificial intelligence algorithm that was trained using hospital-acquired data from monitored cases of COVID-19 and leverages biometric data from commercial grade off-the-shelf wearables. The RATE algorithm enabled early detection of infectious diseases up to 48 hours before symptoms appeared and predicted infections up to six days in advance.

Additional funding

Now, the DOD has received funding to add 4,500 more users of the wearable technology across a variety of departments. One group to receive the new tech will be the Air Combat Command's 360 first sergeants. 

"First sergeants serve as the belly button to all the organizations in the U.S. Air Force, and this technology can improve their lives and the lives of the airmen they serve," said Air Force Maj. Michael Vernale, wing director of Talent Management and Assessments at Fort Meade, Maryland.

"Technology has finally produced a product that will increase overall health and wellness to a community of first sergeants who many times prioritize their people ahead of their own health," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Gradel, Air Combat Command. 

The DOD worked with Philips, a technology company, in developing the algorithm and the private firm is now seeking to accelerate commercialization and scaling of the new wearables. 

"Because our algorithm is device agnostic, we can use biomarker data from any commercial grade, off-the-shelf wearable. We then run those markers against our clinical data sets in the cloud to create a RATE wellness score. The score has proven to be indicative of onset of infections. We can offer it through a licensing model to anyone who wants to add this capability to their device or as a stand-alone service," said in the statement Navin Natoewal, head of integrated technology solutions at Philips. 

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