Sensing & Testing Analytics Toolbox for Soldiers

The main research aim of the BELSPO DEFRA STATS project is to track data of 4 important pillars (physical, mental, health, nutrition) to evaluate soldiers “readiness to perform”, injury risk and infection risk/detection through continuous monitoring and analysis.

Based on the sensor-based recordings and the derivatives calculated from it (monitoring of changes in heart rate, metabolic energy needs for mental and physical performances, sweat lactate concentration, kinematics …) in addition to specific military performance assessments, the external and internal load (objective and subjective) of the daily activities will be quantified on an individual basis

The overall well-being of the military personnel has been put forward as one of the main focus points in the strategic agenda of the Belgian Ministry of Defence. It has been shown however, that attrition in recruits, burnout, general fatigue, injuries and diseases are common in military personnel worldwide and as such threaten the efficiency and functioning of the Belgian Armed Forces.

STATS will provide a platform that facilitates the early detection of suboptimal function in 4 important pillars (physical fitness and recovery, mental readiness, health, nutrition and hydration) that might put the overall well-being of the military personnel at risk.

STATS doesn’t start from scratch. Several UGent/VICTORIS studies/projects have been performed or are currently running within the scope of screening and monitoring of health status and prevention of decreased performance, such as the WCN, PACE and IDRO project.

STATS can be defined as a real-time monitoring system supporting experts in 4 pillars to get soldiers ready to perform. STATS will allow staff to more easily detect signs of maladaptation before they manifest as diminished health, performance, injury, or attrition (as a pre-alert).

The fully automated continuous collection of data with wearables and a data transmission system with an AI-based platform for “blended coaching” must guarantee that the STATS approach is applicable for large numbers of individuals.  

By means of active learning, the platform will – over time – limit the interactions/interventions by experts to those that really matter at that moment. In this way, we aim to go from a 1-on-1 advice to a 1-on-100 support – creating more time to focus on those individuals who really need support.

The information provided by STATS can also be adapted depending on the target group (e.g. to show attrition risk for recruits or out of energy risk during complex training).

The main goal of STATS is to make the sensors and platform ready-to-implement in a military setting. In the different project phases we will iteratively decrease the workload for staff/soldiers by:

– easing the process to capture/collect data
– optimizing the test battery
– limiting the amount of wearables/devices (end goal: all-in-one)
– providing one central platform with data of the 4 pillars
– making the visualizations/results easy to interpret

Prof. Dr. Steven Verstockt, Prof. Dr. Jan Boone, Prof. Dr. Erik Witvrouw & Prof. Dr. Damien Van Tiggelen

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