The U.S. military is expected to expand the use of fitness trackers that were once the subject of a Pentagon ban.
The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), which helps adapt commercially available technology to military use, is working to develop the expanded use of fineness trackers such as watches and rings that were successfully used for early detection of COVID-19 within the ranks, according to a Military.com report Monday.
The devices were at one time banned for deployed troops amid concerns GPS trackers within the trackers could be used to reveal the locations of sensitives military installations in conflict zones. However, the DIU said it had success using the devices during the pandemic by developing an artificial intelligence algorithm it paired with the commercially available trackers.
The technology allowed the Pentagon to track the spread of COVID-19 through a unit days in advance through the DIU’s Rapid Assessment of Threat Exposure project, helping mitigate the disease threat to troops that was at one time difficult for leaders to battle and had negative effects on military readiness.
“With RATE, the DoD can use commercial wearables to noninvasively monitor a service member’s health and provide early alerts to potential infection before it spreads,” DIU project manager Jeff Schneider said in press release Friday.
The Pentagon said the AI algorithm DIU developed is “device agnostic” and can be used across multiple device platforms, with the system being able to detect illness in service members up to 48 hours before they showed symptoms.
However, the expanded use of the devices will be used to monitor more than just the spread of infectious diseases, the Pentagon said, with the devices also allowing the military to track troops overall health and fitness levels.
“Just giving a soldier awareness, like, ‘Hey, man, drinking until midnight and then going to bed to get up next day doing PT’ — it really shows them this is the toll it had on your body,” a health and wellness instructor said of the potential for the devices, according to Military.com.
The Pentagon did not immediately reply to a Fox News request for comment.