The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed many sectors, from healthcare and manufacturing to transportation, revolutionising the way we interact with the world around us. In the defence and security sector specifically, the emergence of the Internet of Military Things (IoMT) is promising to enhance military capabilities and improve efficiency, through an interconnected network of devices, equipment and systems. With an integrated network of sensors, communications systems and data analytics tools, IoMT will enable real-time monitoring, analysis and decision making in military operations.
Although difficult to estimate the IoMT market size due to the sensitive nature of information, a 2022 report by GlobalData estimates it at $486bn in 2020, and predicts its growth to $807bn by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 11%.
Among IoMT devices, the development of innovative soldier wearables is the most prominent. According to a research by ReportLinker, the military wearables market is expected to exceed $5.6bn by the end of 2023 and double by 2030.
Programs like the US Army’s “Nett Warrior” outline systems for the development of the “future soldier”, ensuring every piece of equipment down to the smallest connector is designed for enhanced tactical capabilities. Similarly, head-mounted command-and-control displays equipped with augmented reality such as Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System headset are rapidly gaining popularity.
Integrating wearable devices to monitor vital signs, fatigue levels and the location data of soldiers enables better health management and operational planning. Biometric sensors play an essential role here, since they track in real time heart rate, hydration levels, body temperature and other critical parameters. Connector types commonly used in these applications include magnetic and push-pull options for quick and easy mating, USB-C, micro-USB and HDMI connectors for power, video and data transfer.
Robust data transmission
Military operations often take place in challenging environments, where conditions can be extreme. This means that the IoMT connectors must be suitable for these environments, too, withstanding wide temperature ranges, vibrations and exposure to water, dust and other contaminants. A reliable and rugged connector ensures uninterrupted data transmission between sensors, devices and control centres, enabling real-time situational awareness and rapid decision making.
Data collected from IoMT systems can be analysed by machine-learning algorithms, to provide predictive insights regarding potential threats, equipment failures and supply chain disruptions.
To ensure the reliable acquisition and transmission of data, circular connectors are typically used: MIL-DTL-38999, MIL-DTL-26482 and military-grade RJ45 are known for their robustness, reliability and resistance to harsh environmental conditions. Most prevalent MIL-SPEC standards include MIL-DTL-5015 and MIL-DTL-26500.
Similarly, numerous other standards exist that cover different aspects of military equipment, such as the Generic Open Soldier System Reference Architecture (GOSSRA), German VG standards and NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG), which establish a common set of technical requirements ensuring interoperability and compatibility in joint military operations.
IoMT is characterised by a diverse array of interconnected devices that could be from different manufacturers, nations or military branches. Standardised connectors allow interoperability between numerous military assets, enabling seamless integration and cooperation across the battlefield.
To enhance IoT equipment connectivity, middleware platforms and standardised APIs, as well as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport, are used to facilitate communication and data exchange between diverse devices and systems.
IoMT is certainly a growing trend in defence and security, and here connectors play an essential role, to underpin this platform’s successful integration and operation.
PEI-Genesis offers rugged and reliable interconnect options from many manufacturers, which comply with MIL-SPEC standards and encompass all aspects of IoMT – from soldier-worn applications to land vehicles, aircraft and weapon systems.
By Alex Raymond, Product Manager, PEI-Genesis