Thursday, December 11, 2014

Start-up may revolutionize fit of body armor, other gear

Start-up may revolutionize fit of body armor, other gear: With female soldiers moving toward more involved combat roles, the Army had to re-think body armor, particularly how to tailor it to the female form.

But that has become the tip of the iceberg: a new deal with a contractor could have a much wider range of applications through a profile of thousands of soldiers' body types allowing for all kinds of better-fitting gear.

Manhattan start-up Body Labs officially started its $825,000 two-year contract with the Army in September, and along with that will come data and modeling that could better outfit soldiers in the future. On Monday they unveiled a vision for the future, which includes a more scientific, analytic and efficient approach to sizing, starting with body armor.

"Our vision of the future is a soldier walks into basic training, the Army scans you with a body scanner, and you walk out with boots and helmet that fit you really well. Not custom made because that's too expensive, but that fit really well," said CEO and founder William O'Farrell. "I think they understand the broader need."

The contract includes access to scanning capabilities, data and analytic tools that could turn the Small-Medium-Large-XL continuum on its head. Brian Corner, a PhD and research anthropologist for the Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center, said in an email to Army Times that a lot of applications and analysis would become possible for the first time.