Posted by John McHale
FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom, 19 July 2010. Engineers at BAE Systems are debuting their next generation Headborne Energy Analysis and Diagnostic System (HEADS) helmet sensor during the Farnborough International Air Show.
The debut follows a recent $17 million award from the U.S. Army for BAE Systems' HEADS Generation II sensor, which is designed to better monitor soldiers and assist in the identification and diagnosis of combat-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
"Diagnosing mild to moderate combat-related TBIs can be challenging. For example, following an explosion from a roadside bomb, soldiers will sometimes continue with their mission, unaware that the concussion from the blast may have lingering effects," says Joe Coltman, vice president of BAE Systems' Personnel Protection Systems business. "With the Generation II HEADS sensor, even if the injury isn't obvious, the sensor is equipped with a programmable color LED light that can be set to activate during a blast event, providing immediate notification of a possible combat-related TBI which should be checked out by medical personnel."
The HEADS smart sensor is also designed to provide medical professionals with important data that may help determine the severity of a possible TBI. "With our Generation II HEADS sensor, we're providing medical teams with a valuable diagnostic tool that utilizes radio frequency technology," Coltman adds. "With our new 'smarter' sensor, if a soldier is exposed to a blast, possibly sustaining a concussion, not only will the HEADS visual LED display be triggered at the time of the event, but once the soldier enters a specified area, such as forward operating base or dining facility, a series of strategically placed antennae will scan all available HEADS units and send data to a computer, identifying any soldiers who may have sustained a blast-related brain injury."
The sensor itself is small, lightweight, and can be secured inside virtually any combat helmet. Although imperceptible to the wearer, it is designed to continuously collect critical, potentially lifesaving data, including impact direction, magnitude, duration, blast pressures, angular and linear accelerations as well as the exact times of single or multiple blast events. That information is then securely stored until it can be quickly downloaded and analyzed by medical teams using a simple USB or wireless connection.
Compatible with most helmets, the HEADS sensor is unobtrusive and will not interfere with additional helmet-mounted equipment soldiers may need, such as goggles and other sensors.
Deliveries on the initial Generation II HEADS order are expected to begin in April 2011, and be completed by July 2011.