The problem being solved: Physically intense military exercises are associated with significant risk of exertional heat stress or illness (EHI), which, if left untreated, can lead to heat stroke and death. Non-military populations, including first responders and civilian fitness enthusiasts, face similar risks. Monitoring core body temperature is crucial to preventing EHI, but previous approaches—using a manual thermometer, sensors attached to the skin, or sensors that are swallowed—are cumbersome, expensive, or both.
The technology solution: ECTemp and iHATT are sensor-based technologies that work together to reduce the risk of heat stroke and death in warfighters, first responders and others who work or exercise in hot or humid conditions. By monitoring a person’s estimated core body temperature (ECT) over time, ECTemp can identify early signs of exertional heat stress or illness before they worsen. The Individual Heat Acclimatization Training Tool (iHATT) provides personalized training and real-time feedback using data from the ECTemp algorithm and a smartphone app.
The tech transfer mechanisms: Technology transfer teams from the U.S., U.K. and the Netherlands created a custom agreement that was essentially an end-user license agreement based on a collaborative research and development agreement (CRADA) statutory provision related to licensing “background inventions.” The agreement allowed the Dutch military to extend its field work on preventing EHI by embedding the technology into its own smartwatches. The agreement also enabled the U.S. and U.K. militaries to conduct field testing at a significantly larger scale (starting with 1,500 smartwatches) than had been conducted to date by either military.
The tech transfer excellence: The complex technology transfer process that allowed intellectual property jointly owned by two countries to be deployed to a third country is a testament to the power of creative thinking and collaboration among allies. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic stressed the importance of each party’s ability and willingness to work through multiple challenges that arose during the process, such as loading the ECTemp/iHATT software on smartwatches for the Dutch military.
The outcomes: The technology transfer effort has provided the Dutch military with a new, easier-to-use solution for its ongoing efforts to battle EHI and related complications. This application of the technology also will help facilitate its commercialization within the fitness market. Both the U.S. and U.K. militaries plan further field testing and refinements, and are jointly working on a second application that calculates personalized risk scores for heat injury.
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