Development of a Diver Biometric Device (DBD)
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-078
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-078 TITLE: Development of a Diver Biometric Device (DBD)

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Biomedical, Electronics, Human Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Seal Delivery Vehicle & Shallow Water Combat Submersible Program ACAT III

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: This effort will develop a biometric monitoring system for use with divers in salt water and at depth. The Diver Biometric Device (DBD) will enable both operational and research health assessment and performance enhancement by the measurement of appropriate physiological signals and their associated algorithms.

DESCRIPTION: The Diver Biometric Device (DBD) will be a waterproof/depth-capable device for collecting and processing physiological data. The goal is to provide divers operating in the challenging undersea environment an indication of their health and performance status. The DBD will also provide currently unavailable metrics for undersea medical research. Metrics of interest include: heart rate, respiration (rate, end tidal carbon dioxide), blood gases (oxygenation, nitrogen and carbon dioxide level, bubble formation), blood pressure, temperature (core, skin and ambient), and electrophysiology (cardiac, encephalic). Synchronized information on the dive profile would also be useful (position, depth, time, SCUBA status).

Biomedical issues that must be addressed when diving include drowning, heart failure, barotraumas, hypo/hyperthermia, nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, decompression sickness, arterial gas embolism, high pressure nervous syndrome, fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, underwater blasts, and diving in polluted water.

Terrestrial biometric monitoring is currently in use and providing invaluable capabilities. The key challenge here is that the DBD must provide full function and communication while immersed in salt water and exposed to increased hyperbaric pressures of 300 feet of sea water (FSW) (threshold)/1000 FSW (objective) at a temperature range of 32-95 Degrees F.

No integrated DBD capability for operational environments exists. Past Navy efforts have provided an electrocardiogram recording and analysis system for use in a research pool. The Special Operations Command has explored the transmission of biometric data in an underwater environment and has recently received a limited biometric device for safer pool training. The DBD could adapt existing technologies such as terrestrial biometric devices; hydrophobic electrodes for use in water; biometric analysis algorithms; wrist worn dive computers; underwater voice communication devices; gas sensors on the underwater breathing apparatus; diver locator devices; and/or helmet mounted displays for divers.

PHASE I: Define and develop a concept that illustrates the capabilities of the proposed DBD. Development considerations should include Seal Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Pilots, pool swimmers/divers, surface supplied divers and free swimming divers. Phase I will provide key information about the uses and limitations of the system and could include rapid prototyping and/or modeling and simulation.

PHASE II: Develop, demonstrate and validate the DBD prototype system based on the Phase I design concept. The system should be used under the expected extreme environmental conditions (as cited in the Description section) to collect and analyze data and test algorithms against the known diving biomedical issues.

PHASE III: Develop a production ready system for transition to the US Navy’s SDV program and potentially to other diving and salvage, training and research programs.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This technology would be of interest to a variety of non-military divers including the commercial (underwater construction and oil companies) and recreational diving communities. Technical/cave divers and free divers, some of the more dangerous regimes, would greatly benefit. Endurance swimmers and other high level aquatic athletes would benefit from a waterproof DBD system.

1. SS800-AG-MAN-010/P-9290 System Certification Procedures and Criteria Manual for Deep Submergence Systems.

2. US Navy Diving Manual.

3. What Should Be Monitored? The Past, Present, and Future of Physiological Monitoring. W.C. Shoemaker, Clinical Chemistry, August 1990, vol. 36, no. 8, 1536-1543.

4. Wireless Sensor Network for Wearable Physiological Monitoring. P. S. Pandian, K. P. Safeer, Pragati Gupta, D. T. Shakunthala, B. S. Sundersheshu, V. C. Padaki. Journal of Networks, Vol 3, No 5 (2008), 21-29, May 2008.

5. A Survey on Wearable Sensor-Based Systems for Health Monitoring and Prognosis. A. Pantelopoulos and N.G. Bourbakis, Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Vol: 40 Iss: 1, 2010.

KEYWORDS: biomedical; biometrics; diver; hyperbaric; scuba; health; physiology; human performance; seal; waterproof; undersea; diving; swimming

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