There are two parts to a blast created by an improvised explosive device: a shock wave traveling at supersonic speed, and compressed air, which travels in front of the shock wave. Both can cause considerable damage to the human body, but the exact effects are unclear. To prevent injuries to soldiers and provide better care to those who are injured, the U.S. military wants to understand how blasts impact the human body. So it is working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to develop a system that measures the physical environment of an explosion and collects data that can be used to correlate what the soldier experienced with long-term medical outcomes, especially traumatic brain injury.

Their solution: the Integrated Blast Effect Sensor Suite (IBESS), the first system to acquire integrated, time-tagged data during an explosive event and can later help recreate a holistic picture of what happened. IBESS features two major subsystems: a unit worn by the soldier and a vehicle sensor suite.

Because of improved equipment and medical services, people are surviving severe explosions, yet understanding blast-induced injuries on the human nervous system has been difficult to track. With IBESS, complex contextual data can be collected to link soldiers' experiences with their medical records and later correlate a blast event to traumatic brain injury.