EDGE Product Development of Newtown, PA is using a body-mapping pressure system called Tactilus from Sensor Products to develop a new generation of body armour systems to alleviate soldier fatigue.

The body-mapping system is being used by a team of designers and engineers to develop new vests and carriage systems that optimally distribute the load that soldiers carry.

The new technology shows pressure points, which the team can then use to redesign armour for improved pressure distribution. Besides increasing comfort, the new body armour is expected to significantly increase soldier flexibility and manoeuvrability, providing strategic advantages in the field.

Philadelphia University professor of gross anatomy and physiology Dr Evan Goldman, who is using the sensor technology to test the body armour said that the system shows how pressure points move with the body in real time as soldiers perform their manoeuvres.

“The pressure mapping sensor system shows us any pressure points that develop, not just when soldiers stand in place but also when they perform ballistic motions – such as jumping, running quickly, turning, crouching or crawling on their bellies,” Goldman said.

The sensor system uses rows of sensors distributed into two connecting L patterns, with one L inverted to face the other to provide coverage for the neck, shoulders and trunk. A third sensor pad was configured to wrap around the soldier’s waist. The software was broken up into multiple pieces for full system functionality. The sensors are then melded into the vest to serve as a guide for future prototypes.

KDH Defense Systems is developing the product through a research contract with the US Air Force .