The future of military combat is going high-tech as scientists create an Internet of Things for combat gear embedded with biometric wearables to help soldiers identify the enemy, perform better in battle, and access devices and weapons systems under speedy edge-computing.
The key is a strong edge architecture that uses biometrics, environmental sensors, and other connected devices to send and receive data quickly, allowing military personnel to respond to potentially dangerous situations on the battlefield.
What is the Internet of Military/Battlefield Things (IoMT IoBT)?
“The Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT) involves the full realization of pervasive sensing, pervasive computing, and pervasive communication, leading to an unprecedented scale of information produced by the networked sensors and computing units. Integrating signals from a diverse and dynamic set of sensors, including static ground sensors and soldiers worn sensors, represents one among the several critical challenges facing the implementation of IoT solutions on a battlefield,” says new research entitled “Context Aware Ubiquitous Biometrics in Edge of Military Things” in IEEE Cloud Computing.
“In Internet of Military Things (IoMT) or Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT), an increasing number of ubiquitous sensing and computing devices worn by military personnel and embedded within military equipment (combat suit, instrumented helmets, weapon systems, etc.) are capable of acquiring a variety of static and dynamic biometrics (e.g., face, iris, periocular, fingerprints, heart-rate, gait, gestures, and facial expressions).
“Such devices may also be capable of collecting operational context data. These data collectively can be used to perform context-adaptive authentication in-the-wild and continuous monitoring of soldier’s psychophysical condition in a dedicated edge computing architecture,” write researchers Aniello Castiglione and Michele Nappi of the University of Salerno, Kim-Kwan Raymond Choo of the University of Texas San Antonio, and Stefano Ricciardi of the University of Molise.
Why edge computing is critical to IoMT/IoBT
The key to a sound edge architecture is split-second timing. The number of connected sensors and the huge amount of data that must be processed quickly can overload the system. That’s why these researchers recommend an architecture equipped with intelligent data filters, edge device regulation, and network infrastructure upgrades to increase maximum bandwidth.
“IoBT involves the full realization of pervasive sensing, pervasive computing, and pervasive communication, leading to an unprecedented scale of information produced by the networked sensors and computing units. Integrating signals from a diverse and dynamic set of sensors, including static ground sensors and soldiers worn sensors, represents one among the several critical challenges facing the implementation of IoT solutions on a battlefield,” write the authors.
Identifying the enemy
In asymmetric warfare, it isn’t always easy to identify enemy combatants. They can appear as civilians or access restricted military bases with a stolen badge. Now, sensors can scan irises, fingerprints, and other biometric data to identify individuals who might pose a danger. Edge computing allows, for example, fingerprints from a weapon or bomb to be uploaded to the network and used to identify a combatant instantly. It can also confirm the identity of a target so a sniper can take him out.
“A context-based paradigm has been proposed for improving person authentication accuracy by means of a single identifier, such as facial, gait, fingerprint, gestures, as well as by exploiting multiple biometrics. Other known applications include activity recognition and user’s behavior analysis aimed at enhancing the quality of the services provided by a network of devices located in the surrounding environment,” the authors write.
Monitoring soldiers’ physical and mental state
Biometrics aren’t just limited to identifying combatants. Sensors embedded in uniforms and helmets can send information to a command center about a soldier’s physical condition, helping him or her survive otherwise lethal enemy attacks. For example, pilots under g-force conditions or soldiers exposed to toxic chemicals can receive assistance.
“Context aware biometrics may contribute to fully realize the IoBT potential by augmenting the available information exchanged among the various kinds of devices with supplementary physical (heart rate, body temperature or thermal distribution, etc.), and behavioral (body dynamic patterns, speech patterns, etc.) user data, useful for inferring physiological and emotional conditions of soldiers on the field which could be valuable for critical situation evaluation, and decisional activity,” say the authors.
Syncing soldiers with weapons systems and other devices
Edge computing can help soldiers gain access to vehicles and weapons systems as well as monitor battlefield conditions through, for example, connected drones.
“Context information may also be valuable to achieve performance optimization and operational adaptation of biometric systems implementing ubiquitous user authentication/monitoring on mobile hardware architectures (in IoMT and IoBT devices that can function as a smart and mobile cyberweapon). In this scenario, context data may also include information about the surrounding environment or terrain, lighting conditions, soldier physical status (e.g., collected via sensors embedded in the combat suit), and ongoing activity (in motion or at rest, such as a sniper quietly waiting for a target to present itself), and so on,” the authors say.
Research related to biometrics in the Computer Society Digital Library: