DARPA Aims To Monitor Soldier Health Through Smartphones

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DARPA aims to monitor soldier health through smartphones by way of a new program that it has just received $5.1 Million in funding for. The program, which is officially being called WASH (Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health) will utilize smartphones that belong to service members to keep an eye on their health and have the ability to spot any potential illnesses while those members are out on deployment. The program would use an app that members would have installed on their mobile devices which could then monitor the collected data and look out for diseases.

While this might sound like a good idea in theory, the program and app that comes from it is reportedly raising alarms over personal privacy. WASH would essentially activate and monitor a bevy of different sensors and hardware on the phone to watch for these diseases and collect data, including the cameras, light sensors, microphone, pedometer, fingerprint sensor, and more. The user of the device with the app installed would have to give consent for the app to collect data and monitor those pieces of hardware components, according to the report, so while issues of privacy would not necessarily be unfounded it seems that users would need to knowingly agree to have the app scan these sources on their phones to work and complete its intended tasks.

That said, it sounds like the app would be able to continuously scan these hardware sources which might turn some users off from the idea of using it in the first place, especially considering all of the recent issues concerning data privacy in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. DARPA has every intention however, of keeping the data safe and secure from those that might want to use the data for malicious purposes, with one of the main goals being to find a way to ensure that any data that would be collected by the app is safe and secure from hackers and the like. According to the report the WASH program has already started development, beginning sometime in 2017 with plans for development to continue through 2021 before any further advancement of the program would lead to an actual rollout.