The company has not yet developed a practical system for extracting, storing, and analyzing the data collected by the sensors. But if its technology prevails in the army’s tests, Simbex plans to develop an automatic data-collation system that might, for example, rely on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in army bases or on handheld scanners used by medics on the battlefield.
“Measuring the effects of IEDs is very important, and it is very difficult to get on-the-field data as to how soldiers or marines are exposed to blasts,” says Parker, whose personal experience in Afghanistan inspired him to begin work in his own lab to understand how IEDs cause TBIs. He is also working on tissue-engineering technologies for amputees.
“The big question for scientists like me is how the shock wave is propagated into the skull,” Parker says. “We don’t know that; we don’t know what the nature of these injuries are–if nerves are being compressed, sheared, the extent of vascular injury, and what is going on in the microcellular environment.”
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, created by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2006, is investing a lot of money–and trying to involve a wide range of people–in an effort to address the IED problem. “It is a great thing that they [Simbex] are developing this type of technology, and the army is moving on this,” says Parker. “Let’s just hope they can fight through the bureaucracy and get things to the soldiers as quickly as possible.”