Uniform Goes Electronic

Electrically Conductive Fabric Military Uniform

Written By: Capt Humera Javed

Technological advancements have shown a substantial growth in each and every field whether it be the communication systems, electronic devices, bio-electronic devices, or military hardware. One such advancement is the introduction of electrically conductive fabric military uniform. A military uniform made of such material will enable the soldier to have the possibility to carry and recharge a single battery pack to charge all the electronics he carries without any extra cables. Currently, separate batteries may be required for each piece of a soldier's equipment, which adds to their carrying load as well as being costly. This is one reason why a centralized battery pack is so desirable and soldiers would also be able to recharge or replace one battery instead of many. In addition, it removes the hindrance of the many wires and cables required in military equipment which add weight and can tangle and snag. Developments in the use of conductive fibres have enabled fabric itself to become an electronic device, allowing wearables to be incorporated into the most stylish clothing.

Most conductive fibres are so flexible they do not crack or snap if repeatedly bent, unlike metal wires. This means they can be fed into a loom or embroidered directly onto cloth that can be worn and washed as normal. There are many different ways used by companies to make such conductive fibres. For example, textiles can simply be intertwined with filaments of stainless steel or other metals, or they can be dipped in liquid metals such as aluminum and magnesium, a polymer conductive fibre is made by simply giving a metalized coating and then multiple fibres are wrapped together to form light, supple strands that conduct electricity. Similarly copper fibre contains just a third of the copper in the solid wire it replaces and fibres of stainless steel are under 12 microns in diameter – less than half the thickness of a human hair. It is so soft to handle that people cannot tell it is made from steel. Many companies are also developing light weight carbon and silver fibres to make aprons used for protecting X-ray technicians and a fabric that partially absorbs radar signals.

Using such fibres that conduct electricity opens up all sorts of new design possibilities. Many intelligent textile companies along with the armed forces all over the world are working to produce combat fatigues with pathways of conductive fibres to deliver power to the increasing amount of equipment which soldiers now wear for combat. Another benefit is that fabric does not contain any wires and it is actually a conductive yarn. So if it is even cut from several places it will still continue functioning properly, only the integration of the conductive yarn into a military vest, shirt, backpack, helmet and gloves will be required.

It is not just power leads that can be incorporated into fabrics, but electronic devices as well. Antennae can also be embroidered onto shirts using silver-coated thread. The embroidered antennae can be used by devices worn by the user/soldier to transmit and receive radio signals or to boost the device's own transmission range. Researchers are also working to develop a fabric keyboard made of conductive yarn for use with a portable computer that will be integrated with the uniform. Touching a particular key dissipates an electrical charge which can be detected by an embedded processor. Often the idea is to use the electronics contained in the garment/uniform in tandem with a traditional clip-on device.

Military and law enforcement personnel can benefit from such uniforms and body armour made of electrically conductive fibre that is equipped with built-in sensors and computing devices and this would in turn enhance their battlefield performance.


The Umpire Strikes Back

Written By: Aamir Sohail

Yet again, Pakistan cricket finds itself in the news for the wrong reasons. As the cricketing world, now knows, Saeed Ajmal has been banned from playing his trade. This saga leaves a huge question mark on his cricketing future and on his participation in the ICC 2015 World Cup event. It has also put Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) into a 'Spin.'

Recently, a fair number of former and current players alluded on social media of Saeed being 'dodgy.'

At the last ICC Cricket Committee Meeting, a diktat was announced on 'Illegal Bowling Actions' and that the present methods were imperfect. The ICC also decided to bring improvements in the existing system by opening more illegal-action bowling centres around the globe, instead of having every player flown out to Australia. Afterall, this is not just about Saeed Ajmal, but every bowler out there. Thereafter, it seems every member cricket board decided to set up their own internal committees to deal with their domestic and international players that will allow respective boards to assist, improve and eradicate 'suspect actions.'

For those looking to seek facts, the ICC states an illegal bowling action as “a bowling action that contravenes Law 24.2 as read with Law 24.3 of the Laws of Cricket.” Thereafter, a testing protocol is followed to determine the end result. Saeed Ajmal's test results were alarming because an average of double the allowable limit (15 degrees) was exposed. Ajmal recorded an astonishing 40 degree flex, which was covered by 27 cameras and several ultra-high speed technology instruments.

As a consequence, he became the 3rd international cricketer to receive an international bowling ban after, Kiwi, Kane Williamson and Sri Lankan, Sachithtra Senanayake. Alongside these 3, Zimbabwean bowler, Prospect Utseya was also cited. Now, this leads me to the stance of the PCB. Immediately, there was an outcry of an appeal, which factually requires evidence, and the evidence does not favour the appellant presently. So the board decided to work on improving his actions instead.

I am baffled that despite having Mushtaq Ahmed in their ranks, the decision was made to engage Saqlain Mushtaq who lives in the UK. I appreciate one is a leg spinner and the other an off spinner who arguably invented the 'Doosra.' The Sahiwal leggie has extensive experience with the England Cricket Team and was hired accordingly. One must respect the credentials of Saqlain and his experience, however, it might not prove to be a good decision. I categorically raised this issue seven months ago when Pakistan was involved in a series against Sri Lanka in Emirates that Saeed needs help as his action is deteriorating.

Looking at the whole coaching panel itself, Waqar Younis recent pundit stints in the UAE, prior to his re-appointment as Head Coach, would surely have noted Saeed's possible transgression. There has been an overall weakness at the part of coaches to guide players. Should Saeed's ban be taken as lack of understanding and ability on the part of coaches? Looking deeper, Pakistan had lost the experience of Umar Gul and the rising emergence of Mohammad Irfan to injuries, leaving a gaping hole of experience. This placed a huge reliance on Saeed to take wickets against Sri Lanka in the latest series. As we witnessed, they play spin well, and when wickets became scarce, Saeed became exasperated as his dependency and workload rose.

Where was the coaching team at a time when the abilities of the players needed to come to the fore. When Muhammad Hafeez was sidelined due to lack of form, why wasn't a player considered for selection who could bowl 10 plus overs in a Test Match to give his partners some rest and recuperation during a day's play. Looking at yesteryears, there were several contenders who played this role during my time as a player and captain. Players such as Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Asif Mujtaba and myself would be entrusted to give the quick bowlers a break.

The thoughts of repeating the 1992 efforts at the 2015 mega event will not be easy for Pakistan in that region. Pakistan last played in Australia in January 2010, and a fair majority of the squad will be making their maiden voyage to those shores. Our trump spinner has a fight on his hands to ensure his seat is confirmed. One thing is apparent, they will need to fight like 'cornered tigers' to achieve success. One can also further the stance that Pakistan could be deemed a softer target when it comes to chucking and corruption issues. It is my belief that when the ICC starts spreading the net wider in these issues and check players across the board, the playing field will become level and things will look more transparent.

The writer is former Captain of Pakistan Cricket Team and also remained Chief Selector PCB.

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