|Acquisition Program: || Objective: ||Develop a new generation of the ACRA which would include additional functionality, faster data reduction, and great portability.
|| Description: ||In response to the Army’s organizational goal of determining if the warfighter is mentally ready to carry out the mission, the Army funded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) effort to construct a ‘next generation’ performance test battery designed to capitalize on past test battery developments and can be implemented in the field for operational assessment. As a result, a “next generation” cognitive performance testing system was developed that was more directly applicable to specific operational jobs than has been achieved in the past. For the first time, the capability existed to configure a test battery that was optimized for the specific job/task or class of job/tasks of interest. The tool is referred to as the Army Cognitive Readiness Assessment (ACRA) battery [1,2].
The ACRA identifies the cognitive markers predictive of combat readiness and uses the automated assessment of cognitive skills for enhancing the quality of human-systems integration. For instance, scores from the cognitive testing may be incorporated into technology evaluation models to assess the impact of a given system on overall mission performance. Moreover, by identifying under what circumstances task performance may be degraded can result in different requirements for the number or types of personnel needed for an operation in order to increase survivability [1,2].
The ACRA has proven to be a valuable tool to assess cognitive readiness however, the data extraction and reduction process is quite cumbersome and time consuming. This SBIR would further enhance the prototype ACRA system developed under the previous SBIR by incorporating it into an enhanced hardware/software configuration that would incorporate at least the following capabilities: 1) the entire T-Matrix test battery generation system already developed, with the added capability to modify the tests or matrix easily as additional data are generated, 2) a capability to accept a variety of physiological inputs including, as a minimum, eye and tremor behavior, 3) an enhanced analysis capability that would provide automated analysis and simplified data presentation phrased in the form of recommendations concerning the actual cognitive fightability of the soldier for the specific job or mission in question, and 4) a transmission capability that would allow these data and recommendations to be delivered to an operations center or headquarters.
|| ||PHASE I: Prepare a feasibility study for developing a next generation ACRA system that will provide more faster more efficient data reduction and reporting features that can be put in a hand-portable device. During the first phase the performer will propose a conceptual device and a preliminary design/architecture, to include descriptions of: technologies and the information presentation approach. A final report will be generated, including system performance metrics and plans for Phase II. Phase II plans should include key component technological milestones and plans for at least one operational test and evaluation using an operational system. Phase I should also include the processing and submission of all required human subjects use protocols.
|| ||PHASE II: Develop prototype system based on the preliminary design from Phase I. All appropriate testing will be performed, and a critical review will be performed to finalize the design. Phase II deliverables will include: (1) a working prototype of the technology (2) specification for its development, and (3) test data on its performance collected in one or more operational settings.
|| ||PHASE III: The ACRA is a computer based test battery and therefore is not ideal for studies conducted in more operationally realistic environments. A redesign of this tool that would enable greater portability, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA), would be a huge asset to conducting research studies in more operationally relevant environments as well as the test and evaluation of military systems.
|| References: || O'Donnell, R. D., Moise, S., & Schmidt, R. M. (2005). Generating performance test batteries
relevant to specific operational tasks. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 76(7), II Supplement.
 Swann, M., & Schmidt, R. M. (2005). Army cognitive readiness assessment: A next generation performance battery. Mira Digital Publishing: Human-Computer Interaction International Proceedings. CD-ROM.
|Keywords: ||Team readiness; assessment; cognitive performance|