Defense Department looking to detect illness... via smartphone?

Defense Department looking to detect illness... via smartphone?
The Department of Defense has awarded a contract for a project seeking to develop technology that can detect when a service member is sick through their smartphone. The $5.1-million USD contract was given to a cybersecurity firm called Kryptowire by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Those at the Pentagon looking at developing the new technology call it Warfighter analytics using Smartphones for Health (WASH). 

What is the goal? 


The program is aiming to utilize the various sensors on a smartphone (think motion detection, cameras, microphones or even the heart rate sensors) to detect abnormalities in the user. The program is also looking to use data from user input. The program would analyze how a user is interacting with their device and compare it to how they use it on average as a baseline. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a message or phone call from a person who is less-than-sober, you may have an idea of how it works. It's no secret that the military is a pretty large group of people and this would help the Defense Department detect when a soldier is less than 100 percent. The hope is that this will lead to early detection for everything from Diabetes to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The earlier you detect an illness the better outcome for the patient. 

So what is Kryptowire and are there any concerns? 


The company is based out of Fairfax, Virginia and was started in 2011. According to its site, it appears the firm was essentially started by government contracts. They specialize in everything from app and security analytics to mobile enterprise technology. 

There are already concerns being generated by the project. Specifically, the desire to expand this technology from military to commercial use is what seems to generate the most worry. A lot of technology has come down to the private sector through the same pipeline. Yet, with technology privacy concerns being at an all time high, some people are nervous about having their smartphone detecting and reporting so much personal information. This is still in the very early stages, with the contract just now being awarded. So it remains to be seen how successful it is and if it will be a huge leap ahead for the current healthcare app market. 

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2 Comments

1. tokuzumi

Posts: 1906; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

On the surface, this sounds good, but how else will this technology be used? I can see employers using this feature later to "screen" employees if they think something is amiss.

2. Barnagetam1986

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 16, 2018

This sounds extremely scary. It's not a huge leap from military to private use. The government safe software has been proven not so safe many times over by our enemies. For this to fall into the wrong hands are things that keep you up all night. Privacy is at its all time high due to everything with Facebook...which in truth most sites do the same exact thing,...but it has brought it to the fore front of the news. People are realizing that on the world wide web nothing is private.. we need to keep a close eye on the military development of a program that will decide how you feel through your smart phone...very scary stuff.

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