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U.S. Air Force Pilots Start Testing New Wearable Tech

Recently, eight U.S. Air Force pilots from the 435th Fighter Training Squadron volunteered to test new wearable tech at the 12th Flying Training Wing innovation office at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. This technology will help with reducing risks and increase the pilot's safety.
U. S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Raymond, an instructor pilot assigned to the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, removes his Oura Ring before a flight 6 photos
U. S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Raymond, an instructor pilot assigned to the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, checks his Garmin fenix 6 watch before a flightU. S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Raymond, an instructor pilot assigned to the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, drinks water from a Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle before a flightTech. Sgt. Carmen Turcios Munoz, Ellington Airman Leadership School instructor, shows off a smart watch which provides Airmen biofeedbackMaster Sgt. Chad Hardesty, Ellington Airman Leadership School commandant, and Tech. Sgt. Carmen Turcios Munoz, ALS instructor, compare biometric data from their smartwatches at Edwards Air Force Base, CaliforniaU. S. Air Force Capt. Nathan Raymond, an instructor pilot assigned to the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, removes his Oura Ring before a flight
A Garmin Fenix 6 watch, a Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle, and an Oura ring were given to the pilots. Each piece of equipment works in tandem with a smartphone app to track the user's daily hydration, steps, heart rate, exercise habits, sleep cycle, stress level, and general readiness. To gather consistent data throughout the test, pilots were requested to wear the watch during the day and the ring at night.

Before each flight, pilots must complete an operational risk management, or ORM, form, which allows them to keep track of many variables, such as severe weather, the type of flight formation, whether a student pilot is flying solo, and whether they are flying at a low altitude.

The Garmin watch that the pilots received contains an altitude reader that allows them to keep track of how high or low they are flying, and it can be set to flash when they exceed 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).

"It’s also useful as a canopy pressurization indicator during a flight as a cheaper solution than replacing hardware in an aircraft,” added Lt. Col. John Matchett, 435th FTS commander.

Usually, pilots receive a composite number for each condition they select in the ORM form, and the greater the number, the more at risk the pilot is. The composite number is usually consistent from flight to flight. However, there are two things on the ORM that are more subjective, such as whether the pilot is sleep deprived or has any personal factors.

This new wearable tech is giving pilots the ability to track their general alertness and can help them determine if they are sleep-deprived or dealing with more personal issues than usual. Pilots have also noted that sticking to a hydration plan has actually helped them to enhance their G-strain endurance.

“We are trying to figure out if this technology will improve their decision-making process and become better fighter pilots,” Matchett said.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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