The Army’s top modernization projects ensure the lethality and readiness of the force. While COVID-19 is challenging the continuity of some projects, others rise above to deliver results.
Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s Project Manager Integrated Visual Augmentation System (PM IVAS) is not only maintaining dates of its First Unit Equipped (FUE), it is currently being deployed to ensure Soldier safety and readiness in response to the pandemic.
A team, led by Matthew Adams, PEO Soldier PM IVAS Director of Product Support, and Tom Bowman, Lead at Combat Capabilities Development Command's (CCDC) C5ISR Center, is working to apply the IVAS thermal sensors to detect fever, a known symptom of COVID-19.
1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment Soldiers were first to be screened for fever through the device at Fort Benning last week and on through the weekend.
In total, over 1,150 Soldiers over 4 iterations filed through the Main Post, pausing 5 seconds for scanning, and were sorted after their temperature registered on the IVAS Heads Up Display (HUD). The HUD was calibrated after every tenth Soldier to maintain accuracy, but the process to clear one group was still accomplished in under 30 minutes.
“We performed hundreds of scans a day without a glitch,” said Bowman. “The results were consistent, had little variance in temperature readings, and were in line with secondary temperature readings taken with medical grade thermometers.”
Adams helped coordinate the rapid response team that applied the IVAS HUD and embedded C5ISR thermal sensor technology with a custom software application developed by Team IVAS Microsoft partners to scan Soldiers for fever.
IVAS is designed to increase Soldier lethality and survivability against all threats. COVID is today’s threat, and like anything else, Team IVAS continues to leverage its relevant capabilities for success in all domains.
“Our team quickly recognized that our system's augmented reality display with integrated thermal camera design provides an ideal mobile capability to scan Soldiers for variances in body temperature while maintaining a safe social distancing standoff,” said Adams.
He and his team worked in collaboration with CCDC C5ISR Center's Night Vision Lab and Microsoft to modify the IVAS prototypes into fever-screening capable IVAS prototype systems.
“This involved flashing the IVAS prototypes with new software, and collecting and packaging the components including cables, black bodies, batteries, chargers, secondary medical grade thermometers, laptops, and more that were necessary to enable and support the screening of hundreds of Soldiers a day in a non-lab environment,” he said.
The operational environment required the expertise of NET Trainers to deploy to Fort Benning with the IVAS system.
“The turn-around time from when the trainers learned to operate the system to when they had training materials developed was extremely fast,” said Adams. “This is a great testament to the quality of trainers we have, the experience they bring, and the strong commitment they apply to every mission and every task they are given.”
Lead PM IVAS NET Trainer, Victor Combes, was on the ground teaching Soldiers how to leverage the IVAS thermal sensors for maximum impact.
“Training the Soldiers to use the system took just over 3 hours,” said Combes. “I gave a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation and the rest was hands on practical exercises. They were able to show how much they retained later on, in total scanning 300 Soldiers each time over 4 iterations.”
The technology delivered promising results during the initial deployment event.
According to Adams, “The pilot has been extremely successful.”
“The initial tests have been promising, not only thanks to the data collection, but the lessons learned have helped us to iterate the software to make the system stable and accurate,” said Bowman.
Additional IVAS systems are to be deployed to monitor Soldiers entering Fort Benning’s training schools. Team IVAS continues to iterate the technology for maximum overmatch against COVID-19.