The U.S. military plans to implant soldiers with medical devices,
making them harder to kill with diseases.
Mar 21, 2012
The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced plans to create nanosensors that monitor soldiers’ health on the battlefield and keep doctors constantly abreast about potential health problems.
DARPA’s plan for nanosensors reflects a larger trend, as scientists are trying to harness technology to improve health care across the globe. Doctors are already quickly adopting mobile technology to improve patient care, carrying around iPads to better explain procedures and inventing smartphone apps to oversee drug users’ progress and watch for signs of stress in at-risk patients.
DARPA called the implants “a truly disruptive innovation,” highlighting how healthier soldiers would change the state of modern warfare because most medical evacuations occur due to ordinary illnesses and disease, not injuries. If the U.S. can lead the way in this kind of high-tech monitoring, it could give the military another leg up on adversaries still beset by everyday illness.
Nanotechnology continues to find a place in the medical field as well. Stanford University researchers are developing tiny robotic monitors that can diagnose illnesses, monitor vital stats and even deliver medicine into the bloodstream, similar to the devices that the military plans to create. The two projects have yet to link up, but their similar goals suggest the military could benefit from coordinating efforts with leading university scientists.
The U.S. military regularly invests in the latest mobile technology, not only in healthcare but in its ground operations as well, as the military encourages app developers to develop apps for warfare. The Army is actively incorporating smartphones into battlefield equipment, recognizing the devices’ ability to revolutionize combat.
Still, the U.S. is not the only country in on the action, as China developed an iPhone app to give the People’s Liberation Army information.