A group of scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base ran into a roadblock recently. They needed to mine and track physical data from members of special forces during exertion, things like heart rate, hydration, sleep levels — all through a “Band-aid-like” sensor that interprets sweat.
But, they weren’t near a single one.
“We don’t have any special operators at Wright-Pratt,” researcher Josh Hagen told the Dayton Daily News. “I felt like we could do more by partnering with athletics.”
“These elite athletes are our surrogates.”
They’ve come to a non-financial partnership with Ohio States University to test their Big Ten sportsmen and women in lieu of having access to elite active-duty service members. The roster includes the Buckeyes’ wrestlers, lacrosse and football players.
And while the data collected benefits the United States military, it’s no doubt a symbiotic relationship. The biometrics help the OSU athletes and their coaches and trainers immensely.
“There’s no other school that has a relationship like this,” Doug Calland, associate athletic director for sport performance at Ohio State told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s really been unbelievably helpful to know because we’re going to go hard just like the military does. They train hard and we’re training hard and we need to make sure that we’re doing that in the right way.”
More from the Ohio newspaper:
Since Ohio State linebacker Joe Burger started working with AFRL two years ago, bio sensors have measured his physical depletion on a rating scale to determine what he needs to do more of to recover. The sensors, for example, can alert an athlete if he or she is nearing dehydration or needs extra sleep.
“It makes you more cognizant of the things you can do,” said Burger, a 22-year-old senior from Cincinnati. “You can definitely tell a difference and seeing a difference makes you a believer.”
Its of the researchers belief that the top notch college performers and their conditioning parallel the kind of physical duress a special forces operator endures on a mission. The psychological and emotional toll, obviously, is an entirely different story.