The researchers are designing e-textiles -- cloth interwoven with electronic components -- for use as personal "wearable computers" and as large sensing and communications fabrics.
Jones and Martin, both faculty in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, are principal investigators on two federally funded e-textiles projects.
With funding from the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Martin and Jones are working with colleagues at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) in Arlington, Va., on a project they call STRETCH.
The aim of STRETCH (not an acronym) is to develop large e-textile fabrics that will look like typical military equipment, such as tents or camouflage nets. The electronic wires and sensors woven into the fabric will perform the complex procedure of listening for the faint sounds of distant vehicles being deployed by the enemy.
Within the fabric, the sensors and their connecting wires will communicate with one another to create patterns of information. This information can then be translated by computer software into images that will enable soldiers to determine the location of detected sounds.
"We're designing and constructing a 30-foot-long prototype for the STRETCH fabric," Jones said. "The goal of the project is to develop a low-cost, flexibly deployable e-textile system that has low power requirements and doesn't rely on radio waves." The Virginia Tech and ISI researchers plan to test the prototype in November.
The military already has sound detection systems that rely on radio waves, but communication via radio waves can alert an adversary to a military unit's location. The e-textiles system being developed as part of
Contact: Mark Jones