Imagine a future where your smartphone’s microphone can be used to automatically alert medical staff that you’re having a heart attack.
That’s the level of technology envisioned for a new app being created for the Pentagon to keep track of a soldier’s health on the battlefield.
The software will harvest data from cameras, light sensors, pedometers, fingerprint sensors, and other sensors to make its evaluations.
Funded by secretive weapons development agency Darpa, the military technology is likely to become publicly available in the not too distant future.
Kryptowire, a cybersecurity firm based in Fairfax, Virginia was awarded a $5.1 million (£3.5 million) contract to create the app.
It’s part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) funded warfighter analytics using smartphones for health programme, also known as Wash.
The app will passively collect smartphone sensor measurements to provide real-time monitoring of a soldier’s health, as well as detecting biomarkers for early disease diagnosis.
It aims to allow intervention in medical issues, before a patient has to visit a doctor or nurse due to symptoms developing.
However the privacy implications of the app, being built for Android and iOS, are of concern to experts.
Funded by secretive weapons development agency Darpa, The software will harvest data from cameras, light sensors, pedometers, fingerprint sensors, and other sensors to keep track of a soldier’s health on the battlesecretive field (stock image)
‘If you’re activating a microphone on someone’s phone, that is going to raise a lot of alarms, Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Washington Post.
‘People don’t want to feel like someone is listening in on their private life. That’s going to have to be subject to tight controls.’
Currently, understanding and assessing the readiness of a soldier to fight involves medical intervention.
This is often with the help of advanced equipment, such as electrocardiographs (EKGs) and other specialised medical devices.
However, these are often too expensive and cumbersome to employ continuously or without supervision during active service.
On the other hand, 92 per cent of adults in the United States own a smartphone, or other mobile device.
These could be used as the basis for continuous, passive health, and readiness assessment.
Wash seeks to use data collected from smartphone sensors to enable specially created algorithms to analyse their measurements.
The objective of Wash is to extract physiological signals, which may be weak and noisy, that are embedded in the data obtained through existing mobile device sensors.