The Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance (CESP) adopts a scientific and data-driven approach to optimise soldiers' physical training and combat performance. Science and technology are the key training enablers that allow the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to unlock the potential of every soldier. With the maturity of data analytics, there are more opportunities for the SAF to leverage wearable devices to enhance the effectiveness of physical training and combat performance.
Using Technology to Gather Data
As wearable technologies continue to evolve, physiological information such as heart rate, body temperature, calories consumed and physical activity levels (such as distance travelled, speed and altitude) can be captured. Through data analytics, soldier physiological data can be analysed to gain new insights into training effectiveness, human performance and injury prevention. Wearable device and data analytics can be applied to increase effectiveness and safety of SAF training as follows:
a. Ownership of Training Outcomes through Wearable Devices. The wearable devices monitor the physiological condition of soldiers and collect data for further analysis. Applications can be loaded onto the wearables to translate real-time findings into prompts and alerts. This will allow soldiers to manage their training independently through training indicators provided by the wearable devices. The indicators will allow soldiers to work within their limits and to safely push themselves towards a breakthrough in performance. Soldiers will have direct ownership of training outcomes, and feel safer and have more confidence in the Army's training.
b. Data Analytics to Enhance Training Programmes. Data science will be applied to the collected data to identify trends and reveal new training insights. These new insights will in turn enable the Army to make enhancements to training programmes. The Army will develop applications for training management (as shown in Figure 1 below) to identify trigger points in the soldiers' physiological information, which enables proactive training risk management and injury prevention, hence allowing the Army to design programmes for enhanced training effectiveness.
Figure 1: Data-Driven Training Management System
From 2018, the CESP will be launching a multi-phase project to introduce wearable devices and data-driven approaches into training. The first phase will kick off this year, which involves an observational study to examine the correlation between training, performance and injury risk in a small group of approximately 150 soldiers. Based on the insights gained, the CESP will assess the utility of extending wearable devices to other training schools and units.
Using Data to Optimise Soldier Combat Performance
With the data gathered, the SAF can better understand the soldiers' physiological condition, thereby ensuring that training is progressive, effective and safe.
a. Individual Monitoring. The training potential of each soldier is unique to himself due to the physical variability among all servicemen. By tapping into the physiological information of individual soldiers, the Army will be able to prescribe effective training within the physiological limits of each soldier.
b. Progressive Training. Military training is both physically and mentally demanding, and the SAF believes in progressive training to allow soldiers to achieve high levels of physical performance in a safe manner. With a database of the soldiers' physiological information, the Army is able to track training loads (the strenuousness of a single training session) and prevent the occurrence of over-exertion and injury through better timing of progressive training.
c. Training Safety. Real-time monitoring of physiological soldier data during training can provide lead indicators on a soldier's physical condition. This will allow the Army to manage injury risks proactively by intervening early to minimise risks of acute injury.