NewsAptima to Develop SMARTWATCH for Health and Hazard Monitoring of Military Personnel

Aptima to Develop SMARTWATCH for Health and Hazard Monitoring of Military Personnel

SEMI Nano-Bio Materials Consortium dual-use contract to combine flexible sensor platform and intelligent monitoring for defense and industry

Aptima, Inc. announced today a $2.8+ million contract from the SEMI Nano-Bio Materials Consortium (NBMC) and to develop SMARTWATCH, an innovative, adaptable wearable sensor platform with intelligent analytics to quickly identify Warfighter health and environmental hazards in a wide range of settings. NMBC brings together scientists, engineers, and professionals from industry, government, and universities to collaborate on dual-use technologies to improve human performance monitoring.

Master Sgt. Chad Hardesty, Ellington Airman Leadership School commandant, and Tech. Sgt. Carmen Turcios Munoz, ALS instructor, compare biometric data from their smartwatches at Edwards Air Force Base, California.  (Air Force photo by Gary Hatch)

Funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, SMARTWATCH (Sensor-based Monitoring and Assessment via Remote Telemetry and Wearables for Augmentation of Tactical Care and Health) is being developed as an end-to-end real-time sensing solution for the rigors of military operations. Accurate, proactive monitoring has long been recognized as key to preventing injury and mortality in personnel exposed to a wide range of harmful conditions and stressors. However, limitations in current sensing technologies have made monitoring in harsh conditions impractical or technically unfeasible.

To overcome these issues, Aptima and partners Sentinel Occupational Safety, Purdue University, and University of Notre Dame, are developing SMARTWATCH as a rugged wrist wearable with swappable biosensors that can be easily adapted to numerous mission requirements. The platform will fuse a variety of physiological and environmental data to provide wearers, commanders, and medical personnel with real-time health and safety intelligence.

A key innovation of SMARTWATCH is the combination of a flexible sensor platform that can read for environmental gases, target chemicals, breathe and sweat with an AI-enabled monitoring system to analyze diverse sensor data in context for wearers, missions, and environments.

By quickly identifying health and hazards, SMARTWATCH is envisioned for use across a range of applications, from detecting jet fuel, toxic industrial chemicals, and pollutants in confined space, maintenance, and industrial settings, to assessing the health of Warfighters in operational and training environments, to monitoring patients in transit or evacuation.

Merging expertise from industry and academia, the Aptima team is leveraging advances in biosensors, miniaturization, and machine learning to overcome current limitations in consumer and commercial sensing solutions that fall short of rigorous military requirements.

Solving for size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C), ruggedness, standardization, and future-proof flexibility, SMARTWATCH’s hardware and software innovations will include:

  • a two-sided, high-density nano-enabled sensor array for gases, target chemicals, and breath on one side, and for sweat, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation on the other;
  • a unique disposable sensor architecture to allow sensitive and low-cost measurements of biomarkers;
  • encrypted, secure continuous wireless data transmission; and
  • a cloud-based monitoring platform using machine learning approaches based on deep neural networks to store, analyze, and provide key insights for real-time and longitudinal decision-making.

These features will enable rapid, affordable, and frequent monitoring of Warfighter health conditions, with intelligent, contextual recommendations and insights pulled from massive multi-modal sensor data.

“There is a clear need across the Department of Defense, as well as in the commercial sector, for integrated sensing for Warfighters and workers operating in challenging and dangerous environments,” said Dr. Ian Trase, SMARTWATCH team lead for Aptima. “We intend for the SMARTWATCH platform to be a highly functional system out of the box, in an extensible platform that can meet future sensing needs, providing environmental ruggedness, sensor fidelity, comfort, and ease of use.”

Rather than providing several single-target sensors for a single person or mission, SMARTWATCH will monitor and interpret the most relevant physical and chemical signals for a given environment and wearer, in a platform that can support a variety of sensors at once, and that can be quickly customized for a given situation.

For SMARTWATCH, the Aptima team brings together the following capabilities:

  • Notre Dame’s ‘E-nose,’ a miniaturized, low-power wearable device and gas sensing platform with high accuracy that can relay sensing data to a remote analysis system. The sensor design itself is nonspecific and can be adapted or customized for a given task or mission.
  • Purdue’s sensor manufacturing, thin-film electronics, and nanofabrication to deliver high-quality low-cost sensors that can be designed to a standard such that they can be swapped in and out of the wearable device.
  • Sentinel’s Safeguard™ monitoring platform, with data fusion and AI predictive analytics, a successful commercial spin-off resulting from earlier collaboration between AFRL and Aptima for confined space monitoring.
  • Aptima’s machine learning-based insights and recommendations from incoming sensor data.

Sentinel Occupational Safety’s Safeguard monitoring system

Upon completion, the wearable SMARTWATCH platform will be commercialized through Sentinel’s SafeGuard product suite to applicable market sectors, including health & wellness and industrial safety.

*This material is based on research sponsored by Air Force Research Laboratory under agreement number FA8650-18-2-5402. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) or the U.S. Government.

About Aptima, Inc.
For 25 years, Aptima’s mission has been to improve and optimize performance in mission-critical, technology-intensive settings. Visit

About Sentinel

Sentinel is a venture-backed technology startup working to save lives and prevent injury by predicting future risks. Through novel health & safety assessment and protection, Sentinel provides an intelligent guardian to those is risk-laden environments. Visit

Media Contact:
Joel Greenberg
202-363-1065 | 202-669-3639 cell