News Article

Smart Protective Inserts
Date: Jan 01, 2012
Source: ARMY SBIR Success Story ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Newport Sensors Inc of Irvine, CA

The ceramic tiles in the interceptor body armor plate system are subject to cracking through impact or simple misuse, potentially compromising ballistic integrity and Soldier safety. Currently, periodic non-destructive, pre-impact inspections of armor personnel plates are required during use by Soldiers and prior to reissue to determine continued serviceability. These inspections require expensive, fixed-site digital X-rayunits that are relatively slow, are burdened by numerous logistics issues, and require teams of trained operators.

The objective of this effort is to develop a smart personnel armor insert that features embedded low-cost ultra-lightweight sensors and a simple reliable indicator of armor serviceability for use by Soldiers in any conditions and at any time. Newport Sensor’s Armor Inspection and Monitoring (AIM) technology provides Soldiers with a simple, effective, and reliable means to determine body armor integrity at any time and place in a matter of seconds.

Embedded ultra-lightweight sensors linked to a microprocessor detect damage in the ceramic armor plate. A tiny key can be connected to the armor and provides a simple “go/no go” LED readout. AIM provides an immediate, reliable and readily accessible ballistic assurance to Soldiers pre-combat. Newport Sensors’ AIM system has demonstrated superior damage detection capability. It also provides substantial cost savings by eliminating the significant expense associated with the necessary up-front costs and logistics tail of the current digital X-ray technology.

Technology Transition:
Based on the criticality of the technology, Newport Sensors, Inc. was selected for the U.S. Army Commercialization Pilot Program and a Phase II Enhancement for an additional $1.7M in SBIR funding. This project has received strong support fromthe end user -- the US Army PEO Soldier, PM Soldier Protective Equipment, which has provided an additional $1M funding for prototyping and evaluating the newly developed smart armor inserts.