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Blackbox Biometrics testing ADI MEMS for Blast Gauge monitor


Blackbox Biometrics makes an explosive blast exposure measuring device called Blast Gauge for the US Defense Department, and is currently testing the ultralow-power accelerometers developed by Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) to extend battery life for up to a decade.

Blast Gauge’s current battery life is about 30-60 days. With ADI’s newest three-axis accelerometer called ADXL362, it is hoped that it will greatly extend battery life for much longer.

“The ADXL362 can make infrastructure sensor nets virtually maintenance free, and even for applications where the sensor must always be on, battery life can be extended for months,” explains Bill Murphy, product line director for MEMS/Sensor Technology Group at ADI.

Blast Gauge is an ideal device to test ADXL362. It does not have an on-off switch because it needs to constantly be ready to monitor soldiers for exposure to the harmful concussive forces of mortars and improvised explosive devices. The battery is not replaceable and Blast Gauges are discarded after the battery drains.

The soldiers in Afghanistan wear three Blast Gauges: on the helmet, chest and shoulder. Inside each unit are MEMS sensors to measure the concussive force of explosions. Upon pushing a button post-explosion, a light either turns green, yellow or red to indicate safety levels or if medical attention is required.

ADI is also targeting ADXL362 to be used for other applications where battery replacement can be risky or impractical.

Dave Borkholder, founder and CTO of Blackbox Biometrics and professor of electrical engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology developed the Blast Gauge under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract.

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