The Army’s xTechSearch program uncovers value and innovation.
By Jess Stillman
A panel of Army experts chose 48 concept white papers from the 351 submitted for Phase 1 of the fourth cohort of technologies for the Expeditionary Technology Search (xTechSearch) at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Convention in October 2019. Each small company moved on to Phase 2 and received an award of $5,000.
Phase 2 contestants presented a 15-minute in-person technology pitch followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer sessions with a panel of Army technical experts at various locations across the United States, including Playa Vista, California, Austin, Texas, and Philadelphia. The Army invited 20 of the 48 competitors to move on to the semifinals and awarded each a prize of $10,000.
The Phase 3 semifinals were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to be conducted virtually. Each small business competitor provided a detailed 10-minute pitch, after which an Army panel of experts held a 10-minute question-and-answer session. Ten of the 20 small businesses were selected for the finals and received an award of $120,000.
Each of the finalists will provide a live proof-of-concept demonstration to a virtual audience during the 2020 AUSA annual meeting, October 12–14. One grand-prize winner will be selected during the virtual event and will receive a prize of $250,000. All other finalists will receive an additional $10,000. Here are the xTechSearch 4 competition finalists and snapshots of their technology concepts:
Bounce imaging provides a tactical throwable camera that could be used to gather vital information from a safe distance. The device captures 360-degree panoramic video and audio, and transmits it in real time. The panoramic video is stabilized, ensuring the spherical camera body does not need a specific up-direction. Teams that face immediate dangers can use the low-cost and easy-to-deploy system to gain vital information to keep themselves and civilians safer.
GeneCapture provides a portable rapid infection diagnostic that identifies the genetic signature of a pathogen using direct RNA hybridization. The unique approach to the diagnostics of diseases allows GeneCapture to use RNA-based technology to bring infection detection to the point of care.
Inductive Ventures created an active magnetic brake design that provides magnetic braking and electric taxi capabilities to the rotorcraft. The braking system is a direct replacement for the carbon-steel brake currently used onboard and will fit within existing spaces. The active braking solution provides rotorcraft with the ability to not only brake the aircraft but also taxi the aircraft in arduous environments without the use of the main rotor.
IoT/AI Inc. provides an “edge as a service” system that is easy to deploy and will provision real-time monitoring, data collection, distribute artificial intelligence and machine learning, collaboration and decision support. The edge platform supports more than 4,000 sensors and is an unmatched combination of tactical radio, edge computing, sensor integration and edge AI and machine learning in a commercial off-the-shelf-based military specification-certified, and anti-access and area-denial-resistant system, low probability of intercept and low probability of detection, low radio-frequency, tactical, maintenance, training, health, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives, Internet of Things, etc.
Lynq Technologies provides a solution called LynQ, which is a lightweight, low-cost, radio frequency-quiet and jamming-resistant stand-alone location device. The device has a carabiner that improves situational awareness, squad vector logic and formation, and allows operators to tag, track and locate anyone or anything for miles like a sixth sense—no networks, apps, phones or maps required.
KeriCure Inc. created nanopolymer-based skin- and wound-care products that provide immediate protection against bacteria, dirt and germs in a simple to use spray-on format. The nanopolymer technology affords durable, highly elastic wound barrier coverage over any size or shape wound. With the patented nanosilver polymer technology, KeriCure provides all-in-one wound care solutions that work.
MEI Micro Inc. developed a proprietary 3D system micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication platform that enables designs of high-performance, lowest-cost inertial sensors, as well as other MEMs sensors, that can be scaled to provide tactical, near-navigation and navigation performance while meeting crucial size, durability and cost requirements for low cost, size, weight and power.
Multiscale Systems Inc. provides mechanical metamaterials that are directly applicable to the development of Soldier protective systems including Next Generation Combat Vehicles crush tubes, long-range missiles impact mitigation, load footprint reduction in aircraft, and mid-sized Joint Precision Airdrop System. Mechanical metamaterials are the next-generation class of structured materials with greater performance metrics on energy absorption, vibration control and reduced mass density.
Novaa Ltd. developed an ultra-wideband antenna capability, enabling multiband operation across the C, X, Ku and Ka satellite communication bands. Based on commercial off-the-shelf components, the low-cost solution powers high bandwidth, multifunctional operations, replacing numerous separate antenna systems with a single, low-profile aperture conformal to operational platforms.
Vita Inclinata Technologies provides “Vita’s Load Stability System (LSS) Platform,” an active suspended load-stabilization device that addresses lack of payload stability in the global helicopter and crane marketplace. LSS senses the environment, fuses the data through Vita’s proprietary stabilization algorithm, then articulates high-performance electric ducted fans to counteract all motion the suspended hoist cable undergoes.