US: Emerging wearable technology for first responders


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The U.S Homeland Security Department (DHS) is promoting innovative ideas around wearable technology that could benefit first responders.

The department’s Science and Technology Directorate launched its first business accelerator program called “EMERGE!” that will provide early-market validation, mentoring and access to private investment for certain technologies. It is seeking applications for the program, with the program beginning at some point in time this summer.

According to Fierce Home Land Security, the S&T is looking to speed up development of wearable technologies such as body-worn electronics, advanced sensors, and integrated voice and data communications. This, according to a recent press release.

“First responders can benefit from these new emerging technologies, to not only ensure their personal safety, but to better save the lives of those they serve,” said Dr. Robert Griffin, who is the deputy under secretary for science and technology, in the release.

“There may be innovators who have ideas for the latest scientific advancements that can make a difference in helping these first responders,” he added.

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According to the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), which is partnering with DHS, the Air Force Academy, and DHS Center of Innovation in this program, the commercial market around wearable technology will reach $1 trillion over the next few years. CIT is a nonprofit group that seeks to foster innovation and commercialization of technologies.

An official at the Herndon, Va.-based CIT said “If DHS is able to leverage this commercial activity it should be able to get cutting edge technology into the field faster and at much lower cost to the government than trying to develop these technologies on their own.”

The DHS is calling on entrepreneurs to conduct market validation activities. Officials said the program is seeking to accept a total of 10 to 15 companies. This is widely seen as a means of consolidating resources in a bid to hedge appropriations in case of budget cuts. Technology is perceived as a force multiplier, especially in this day and age of rising challenges.