Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) - 711th Human Performance Wing


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2610 Seventh Street
Wright Patterson AFB, OH 45433-7901
United States

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(937) 522-3252


In 2008, the activation of the 711th Human Performance Wing (711 HPW) within the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base created the first human-centric warfare wing to consolidate research, education, and operational consultation under a single organization. The 711 HPW is composed of the Human Effectiveness Directorate (711 HPW/RH), the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine (711 HPW/USAFSAM), and the Human Performance Integration Directorate (711 HPW/HP).


The Wing's mission is to advance human performance in air, space and cyberspace through research, education and consultation. We support the most critical resource - the men and women of our operational military forces. From concept to deployment, we provide the solutions to achieve an optimum Airman life cycle: acquire, train, equip, enhance and protect.

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Advanced Speech Perception Laboratory
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Auditory Localization Facility
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Bio-Acoustic Research/Testing
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Air Force CRADA brochure

Air Force CRADA brochure
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Air Force Commercial Test Agreement

Air Force Commercial Test Agreement
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711 HPW Lab Capabilities Guide_Distro

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Behind the scenes at a training exercise several years ago, researchers from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) asked air combat commanders to outline their biggest challenges.

By far, commanders expressed the most concern over confusion caused by large amounts of radio traffic. During intense operations, many voice transmissions prompted a request to repeat and much of what was said simply got lost.

Envisioning an opportunity, researchers went back to the 711th Human Performance Wing at AFRL to take a closer look at how the human mind processes information and why voice communications become garbled in a headset. That spawned work on a software tool to capture and organize voice communications, which has since been patented by AFRL as multi-modal communication (MMC) spatial audio separation and visual transcription.

“The biggest problem with emergency management is the confusion as messages get mixed, messages step on each other,” said Bob Lee, who served as a branch chief at AFRL during the initial development of MMC and is currently open innovation project manager at Wright Brothers Institute in Dayton, Ohio. “Spatially separating them allows you to get back to a natural interface. Critical information is more likely to be found.”

While still being evaluated for Air Force use, MMC is now positioned to improve emergency management operations in the civilian world as Dayton-based GlobalFlyte signed a Patent License Agreement (PLA) for the technology earlier this year. PLAs are used by the Air Force Technology Transfer Program to ensure that Air Force science and technology is shared with state and local governments, academia and industry.

GlobalFlyte, an emergency management technology startup, plans to build a business around MMC by combining it with other technologies to provide a tool for better incident response management.

“The MMC will dramatically change the incident commander’s ability to process large amount of radio traffic,” said Tim Shaw, chief operating officer of GlobalFlyte. “This is something that needs to be done because the job is so hard in a crisis. Having a better comprehension of information will result in making better decisions that save lives.”

Based on his operations experience during a more than 20-year FBI career, Shaw believes MMC could make an immediate impact on the emergency management industry. When combined by GlobalFlyte with other technologies, the benefits will include transcription in near real-time; pinpointing the location of transmissions on a map; the ability to create an alert for keywords; and the flexibility to use anywhere from a car to a command center.

Shaw expects GlobalFlyte to release a beta product in the first quarter of 2017 to early adopters. The company recently attracted a $100,000 Ohio Third Frontier grant for additional development work.

The science behind MMC

AFRL researchers designed MMC as a network-centric communication management suite to capture, record and display both radio and chat communications so operators have instant access to all current and past information. It employs virtual audio display technology to separate multiple signals, providing a balance between the speed of radio traffic and the accuracy and data capturing capabilities of chat displays.

GlobalFlyte has an exclusive PLA for the MMC technology within the field of emergency response for state and local governments. Exclusive PLA’s ensure that only one company has rights to an Air Force technology in a particular field.

In addition to the PLA, GlobalFlyte also signed a five-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Air Force. The CRADA allows the Air Force and GlobalFlyte to conduct joint research into advanced group communication and examine the military/civilian interactions in joint emergency responses or humanitarian scenarios.

Additionally, both parties will be collaborating on the effectiveness of joint group communication systems with non-native speakers of English and non-English speakers by collecting, analyzing, sharing and exchanging information from large-scale exercises. 

“CRADAs provide a great opportunity for both parties to leverage each other’s knowledge and expertise to further develop the technology. It’s not just additive, it often has a multiplying affect advancing the technology by factors of two or three times,” said Air Force Technology Transfer Program Manager Keith Quinn.

A pathway to commercialization

Tec^Edge Ventures,  a joint venture between Wright Brothers Institute and SPGlobal Inc., helped launch GlobalFlyte.

Wright Brothers Institute is an AFRL partnership intermediary designed to support collaboration and technology transfer while SPGlobal brings technology and implementation experience to the table.  Companies spawned from Tec^Edge Ventures put money back into the organization to help sustain its process for commercializing AFRL technology. 

AFRL – headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio – manages a multi-billion dollar science and technology portfolio to address specific needs, but also is required to meet technology transfer benchmarks.

William “Bill" Harrison, director of the Small Business Directorate at AFRL, said GlobalFlyte is a prime example of a newer, more aggressive strategy for getting Air Force intellectual property into the market. Commercialization typically spurs faster development of technology – allowing it to permeate society for the greater good – while potentially adding features and lowering future costs for the Air Force.

Additionally, commercialization helps fuel the economy by driving job growth.

Air Force researchers are investigating ways to enhance Airmen attention, vigilance, learning and memory without relying on prescription medications.

The 711th Human Performance Wing recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Rio Grande Neurosciences of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to expand its work in the field of transcranial direct current stimulation to include new stimulation methods. Specifically, the project will expand the 711 HPW's work by focusing on the development and evaluation of pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation, new tDCS paradigms, and transcranial alternating current stimulation.'

CRADA is one type of technology transfer agreement that provides quick access to extensive government-funded research and development resources that can be leveraged to create powerful results while also providing intellectual property protection for both parties. These types of agreements are facilitated by the Air Force Technology Transfer Program and its affiliated Office of Research and Technology Applications. An ORTA is embedded at many Air Force research locations.

Under the agreement, the 711 HPW will use Rio Grande Neurosciences devices to conduct tests on 36 recruited participants. The results will be shared with the company. If shown to be effective in this project, these technologies/techniques may provide a new treatment for medical patients, as well as a simple and cost-effective method for sustaining Airmen performance in critical Air Force jobs such as image analysts, cyber operators, and remotely piloted aircraft operators.

"This CRADA allows us to receive valuable product feedback from a research team who we have great respect for and whose input will be very beneficial to what we do," said Dr. Michael Weisend, senior scientist at Rio Grande Neurosciences.

The 711 HPW has been studying tDCS for nine years in order to learn the method's effect on learning, memory, visual search, creativity, and decision making. The research has shown that the method can facilitate learning and improve attention span and reaction time. It is also pain-free and non-evasive. One issue with this method is that it requires the use of a gel for electrical conductance, which can be difficult to apply and remove completely from the hair. In addition, it requires a trained technician to set-up and conduct the treatments.

The new agreement will allow Air Force researchers the opportunity to examine similar methods developed by Rio Grande Neurosciences and cleared by the Federal Drug Administration. PEMF does not require conductive gels or solutions because it readily permeates tissue and changes brain activity by using magnetic stimulation. Historically, PEMF technology has been used to aid wound healing, but this CRADA will address its use as a neuromodulation technique.

The company has improved tDCS electrode designs and tec hnology making application easier and more comfortable for the user. Similar to tDCS, PEMF appears to change brain activity by modulating the excitability of brain tissues.

The company has also developed advanced multiple coil transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technologies to influence brain activity. The higher powered TMS technique directly activates brain tissue at the site of influence. TMS and PEMF application are as simple as placing insulated wires close to the scalp.

"Technology Transfer agreements like this CRADA are extremely important," said Mr. Andy McKinley, 711 HPW Biomedical Engineer. "They allow the Air Force to leverage new technological advances in industry to advance scientific discovery here in the laboratory. Then we can transfer our discoveries back to industry to provide an acquisition pathway for the end-users here in the Air Force."

For more information about technology transfer opportunities with the Air Force, call the Air Force Technology Transfer Program Office at 937-904-9830.


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