Under the terms of the agreement, the Air Force will enhance the VivoMetrics' LifeShirt monitoring system with a space-based, global positioning system (GPS) and long-range wireless capabilities to create an advanced method for real time location and physiological monitoring of military personnel in the field. The agreement also includes developing an "intelligent" flight suit which can detect a fighter pilot's loss of consciousness during "a complicated aerial dogfight manoeuvre" and activate the plane's automatic navigation system.
Lt. Col. Mikel Miller, head of AFIT's Electrical Engineering Division, stated that the data collected from the wearable system could "help us plan effective troop rotation, ensuring front-line soldiers are always at their best both physically and mentally, and ultimately saving lives". Also planned are ways to improve the accuracy of GPS localisation so that it can be used to track personnel inside buildings.
The LifeShirt is a washable, mesh-like, lightweight shirt which uses embedded sensors to collect and continuously monitor over 30 physiologic indicators of health and disease including respiratory and cardiac function as well as other physiological parameters. The data collected can be correlated to produce an overall picture of the wearer's health, as well as his or her physiological status, such as determining the onset of fatigue. The data is delivered via handsets for monitoring by medical personnel.
Products resulting from the research could be ready for field use as early as 2003, according to VivoMetrics. The LifeShirt has not yet been cleared for marketing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. In December 2001, it has received the CE mark and ISO 9001 approval for commercial distribution in Europe.
In return for the patent rights to LifeShirt, NIMS was given equity ownership in VivoMetrics and will be paid royalties on sales and leasing of all LifeShirts. The LifeShirt indeed has been created by NIMS Chairman Marvin A. Sackner, M.D. Dr. Sackner was director of medical services at Miami Beach's Mount Sanai Hospital for 17 years. He founded NIMS in 1979 and continues to guide the company's research and development.
"This is another example of the tremendous potential of the LifeShirt and further evidence that our equity and royalty arrangement with VivoMetrics will be profitable and will stimulate interest in new non-invasive therapeutic devices we have under aggressive development", stated NIMS CEO Allan F. Brack.
Lt. Col. Miller termed the LifeShirt a potentially "enormous benefit in air and ground-force management". "Not only will we be able to detect injuries instantaneously and mount a quick, appropriate medical response, but we also believe it will help us predict when service members are at risk for exhaustion or are otherwise in trouble." Paul Kennedy, president and chief executive officer of VivoMetrics, added that the LifeShirt system could be expanded to "track and manage the location and health of civilian safety personnel, such as firefighters and law enforcement officers, during disaster and rescue operations".
Founded in 1999, VivoMetrics has called LifeShirt a solution for the health care, athletics, and pharmaceutical markets. The popularity of wearable, personal-sensing devices such as the computerised LifeShirt, has been cited as one of the Top 10 Health care Predictions for 2002 by Forrester Research.
An article on the Sleep News and Research Web site titled "VivoMetrics' LifeShirt System for Monitoring Patients at Work, Play and Sleep", stated: "Potential markets include the clinical trials arena, where accurate subject monitoring can greatly influence the cost and speed with which drugs and medical devices are brought to market. Other applications for the LifeShirt System include home sleep diagnostics, as well as research into causes and treatment of behavioural health disorders, respiratory disorders and cardiovascular disease."