The military wants to develop better headgear that will help us better understand head wounds and traumatic brain injury (or TBI), a condition that's effecting more and more of America's troops deployed overseas. It should come as no surprise that the whiz-kids at DARPA are behind it all, and the agency has awarded a $5 million contract to the Palo Alto Research Center to develop such a technology over the next three years.
The solution PARC has come up with is surprisingly low tech: a plastic taped-on strip that features printed circuitry ranging from memory storage to sensors. For seven days the helmet sensors are able to record the pressures acting on a soldier's head — especially pressure waves emitted from concussive blasts — though after the week the disposable strip is done. That shouldn't be a problem, though, as the strips cost less than a dollar each to make.
A soldier doesn't have to get hit by a blast to suffer an injury. The powerful explosives used in modern warfare can send a wave of pressure traveling a thousand feet-per-second at an infantryman, and that's plenty powerful to leave a lasting impression.