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Georgia Tech is a unit of the
University System of Georgia.
Tech researchers develop first
The old military standard issue T-shirt and dog tags
are taking on new meaning and could someday save a life
on the battlefield, thanks to a new "woven
computer" designed by Georgia Tech, under contract
with the U.S. Department of Navy. The "Sensate Liner
for Combat Casualty Care" uses optical fibers to
detect bullet wounds, and special fibers to monitor
health vital signs during combat conditions. Georgia Tech
and the Navy released preliminary results from their
research in October.
To use this new technology, a combat soldier attaches
sensors to his body, pulls the Sensate Liner T-shirt on,
and attaches the sensors to the T-shirt. The T-shirt
actually functions like a computer, with plastic optical
fibers and conducting fibers woven throughout the actual
fabric of the shirt. The truly unique aspect of this
design is that there are no seams or "breaks"
in the plastic optical fiber, which circumnavigates the
T-shirt from top to bottom.
"The idea is to send a 'signal' from one end of
the plastic optical fiber to a receiver at the other
end," said Dr. Sundaresan Jayaraman, a professor in
Georgia Tech's School of Textile and Fiber Engineering
and the principal investigator of the project. "If
the light from one end does not reach the other end, we
know the Sensate Liner has been penetrated (i.e., the
soldier has been shot)." A signal bounces back to
the first receiver from the point of penetration, helping
the medical personnel pinpoint the exact location of the
The receiver is a Personal Status Monitor (PSM)-the
21st century version of a dog-tag-and is worn at
hip-level by the soldier. In a combat situation, the
plastic optical fiber senses the penetration of a bullet
and sends the information of the break in the plastic
optical fiber to the PSM. The soldier's vital signs-heart
rate, temperature, blood pressure, etc.-are monitored in
two ways: through the sensors woven into the T-shirt; and
through the sensors on the soldier's body, both of which
are connected to the PSM. Information on the wound and
the soldier's condition is immediately transmitted
electronically from the PSM to a medical triage unit
somewhere near the battlefield The triage unit then
dispatches the appropriate medical personnel to the
"The Sensate Liner can help a physician determine
the extent of a soldier's injuries based on the strength
of his heartbeat and respiratory rate," said Dr.
Jayaraman. "This information is vital for assessing
who needs assistance first during emergency situations in
which there are numerous casualties."
In addition to military applications, the Sensate
Liner holds potential for use by law enforcement
personnel as well. The Sensate Liner, which is still in
the development phase, is expected to cost between $25
and $35. Testing of a prototype is scheduled for next
spring, in coordination with the U.S. Navy.
However, the woven computer technology already has
caught the attention of the news media. Last month, ABC
Nightly News with Peter Jennings featured Jayaraman in a
cutting-edge technology segment.
| Georgia Tech's Homepage
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Approved by the Office
of External Affairs on 09/24/97
Last Modified: November 4,
1997 at 6:30 AM