Garmin smartwatches are helping to assess physical fitness of U.S. Space Force Guardians.
Trial program measures Guardians’ physical activity and biometric data to assess readiness.
OLATHE, Kan – Garmin smartwatches are being deployed by the thousands to help assess the physical fitness of U.S. Space Force Guardians, the company (NYSE: GRMN) announced today. Commissioned by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the two-year study will explore the effectiveness of smartwatch technology to supplant annual physical fitness assessments.
U.S. Space Force
The United States Space Force (USSF) is the United States Armed Forces’ space service branch and the world’s only dedicated independent space force. The Space Force, like the US Air Force, is part of the Department of the Air Force, which is commanded by the Secretary of the Air Force. The Space Force is led by the chief of space operations, who is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the vice chief of space operations.
The Space Force is the smallest branch of the United States military, with only 8,600 personnel. GPS, Space Fence, military satellite communications constellations, X-37B spaceplanes, US missile warning system, US space surveillance network, and the Satellite Control Network are all operated by the Space Force. The Space Force is responsible, under the Goldwater-Nichols Act, for organizing, training, and equipping space forces, which are subsequently delivered to the unified combatant commands, primarily United States Space Command, for operational employment.
“Garmin is gratified to be part of this exciting research effort that will help ensure Space Force Guardians are physically prepared to perform their duties. The accurate health metrics and exceptional battery life of our smartwatches will provide a reliable snapshot of a Guardian’s physical readiness, potentially saving the U.S. Military time and money.”Scott Burgett, Senior Director of Garmin Health Engineering
Guardians who actively participate in the study will be exempt from U.S. Air Force physical fitness assessments. Enrollment has been robust, with over two-thirds of the 8,400-strong Space Force signing up since the program was announced in May. To date, more than 6,000 Garmin smartwatches have been or will be issued to active military members who have agreed to log workouts and complete monthly surveys provided by AFRL, and a second wave of enrollment is expected to begin in October.
“By tracking two basic metrics—cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity—we can quickly verify that a Guardian has met their physical requirements and is ready for duty,” said Dr. James Christensen, a product line lead with AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing. “We hope that continuous fitness assessment, implemented via wearable technology, will promote a higher, more consistent level of fitness across the force with expected outcomes like reduced injury and stress, improved resilience and higher overall operational performance.”
Garmin Instinct® 2 Solar and Forerunner® 55 smartwatches were chosen for the U.S. Space Force’s Continuous Fitness Assessment (CFA) project because they offer abundant battery life, high-quality biometric data and the ability to disable GPS functionality. Further, the Garmin Health API and secure data collection practices are compliant with federal privacy and cybersecurity standards for software, sensors and data encryption.
“We were pleased that the Garmin wearable ecosystem went through a rigorous U.S. Air Force cybersecurity and privacy review,” Burgett said. “The U.S. military has high security standards, and our system is designed end-to-end to protect sensitive user data.”
The AFRL team will analyze study results to determine the effectiveness of smartwatches relative to the current physical fitness tests and advise on future efforts to make smartwatches a permanent option. If successful, the program could be adopted by other branches of the Armed Services and include broader Department of Defense requirements such as musculoskeletal injury risk.
Garmin Health provides custom enterprise business solutions that leverage Garmin’s extensive wearable portfolio and high-quality sensor data for applications in the corporate wellness, population health, and patient monitoring markets. The Garmin Health API allows third parties to ask customers to share their data in accordance with their specific privacy policies.