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  Game-Like Interface Shows Soldier Hit-Points  
Posted 2006-04-07 by Tony Walsh
Next month, the U.S. Army will roll out a major test of an electronic health-monitoring system, according to Technology Review contributor Katherine Bourzac. The system reportedly uses a network of sensors to collect biological and positional data from active soldiers, relaying the information to battlefield medics and commanders. In other words, it layers a videogame metaphor atop field operations.

From the Technology Review article: "A medic or commander can also view the information on a battlefield map that shows the location of each soldier and his or her health status: green (okay), yellow (look), red (look now), blue (unknown), or grey (absence of life signs for over five minutes). Or he could zero in on individual soldiers and get information about their vital signs, position, and how much they've slept or had to drink...The core of the sensing system is the chest belt, which reads pulse, respiration, skin temperature, body orientation, and ambulation...Data from an accelerometer in the belt can be used to determine body position...An optional acoustic sensor is designed to pick up vibrations resulting from a ballistic wound..."

Providing the type of information gamers are used to dealing with makes perfect sense considering the Army's escalating embrace of gamers (1, 2, 3, 4) and the digital generation through videogame recruitment tools, game-based training efforts, and employing game-like battlefield technology. At the South by Southwest conference in Texas this year, Erwin Kaplan (of the Army Medical Department Center and School) told attendees of the "Serious Games for Learning" panel that new Army recruits are generally gamers, kids are using the same technology every day that they will use in the battlefield, and the future Army will be a social network facilitated by digital technology such as blogs and cell phones.
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