The US DOD Has Invented A Wearable Device That Can Quickly Identify Infections

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has partnered with the private sector to create a successful wearable device that identifies COVID-19 infections. The Defense Department plans to extend the device’s use to detect other infectious diseases in service members.

Jeff Schneider, program manager for the Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure (RATE) project, said the DIU’s RATE project utilizes a predictive AI algorithm trained using hospital-acquired data from COVID-19 monitored cases, which leverages biometric data from commercial grade wearable devices.

Moreover, Schneider stated that RATE’s algorithm detects infectious diseases up to 48 hours before symptoms appear and, in some cases, up to six days before onset, including asymptomatic cases.

RATE was one of the ten pilot programs funded through the Congressionally established Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies initiative. With an additional $10 million in funding, the program will add 4,500 more users across the department.

“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 often prioritize their people ahead of their health,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Gradel, Air Combat Command. 

Philips, a technology company with which the DOD collaborated, has expanded its efforts globally to accelerate the commercialization and scaling of the algorithm.

The wearable device’s extension will allow the DOD to monitor service members’ health and provide early alerts before the disease spreads. In addition, the algorithm’s device-agnostic characteristic enables biomarker data from any commercial-grade wearable. The effort aims to add three more popular wearable devices to its current deployment of Garmin watches and Oura rings.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified the RATE device as general wellness.

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