QUASAR, Inc. Announces Award of Research Project from DARPA

Quantum Applied Science & Research (QUASAR), Inc., a San Diego-based high-tech company, has just been awarded a research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a wearable detector of extreme mental stress, referred to as acute cognitive strain (ACS).

Under this funding, QUASAR will collaborate with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) to develop and test a wearable and comfortable Nonintrusive Detector of Acute Cognitive Strain (DACS) for U.S. warfighters. The $150K award is the first of two planned phases of a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research effort whose total funding could exceed $1M. In October 2016, QUASAR and IHMC also received a $2M award from the U.S. Air Force to monitor cognitive effort, stress, and fatigue.

ACS is the psychological state that results from excessively high mental demands. It can cause loss of productivity, situational awareness, and self-control, in addition to breakdowns in team cooperation. This can worsen job performance and satisfaction, and in certain environments lead to team failure and catastrophic consequences.

“In today’s world, almost everyone is stressed out. ACS is the extreme end of the stress spectrum, when tempers are lost and grown-ups melt down into tantrums,” explained Dr. Walid Soussou, CEO of QUASAR, who is leading this project along with Dr. Anil Raj from IHMC.

Many consumer-grade wearable stress monitors have recently started appearing on the market, like Thync, Wellbe, or Spire, and there are even apps for the Apple Watch. QUASAR and IHMC aim to develop a military-grade wearable DACS sensor suite to measure ACS-related physiological changes, including increased blood pressure, heart rate, sweatiness, muscle and voice tension, and shortness of breath. These measurements would be…

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