IARPA to host Proposers’ Day, posts RFI for PEC program
On November 30, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity posted a request for information and Proposers’ Day notification for its Portable Electronic Cooling (PEC) program. Responses are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on January 14, 2019.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is seeking information on research efforts in the area of cooling systems for small mobile devices. This request for information (RFI) is issued solely for information gathering and planning purposes; this RFI does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.
Background & Scope
Both the processing power available and the number of sensors that are available in, or linkable to, smartphones has increased exponentially in recent years. Today, smartphones can be commercially obtained with built-in capability to function as microphones, cameras, proximity sensors, ambient light sensors, motion sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers (digital compasses), thermometers, humidity sensors, barometers, heart rate monitors, pulse oximeters, laser range finders, barcode scanners, and Geiger counters. Plug-in or wireless attachments for smartphones are commercially available that convert the devices into anemometers, temperature probes, digital stethoscopes, electrocardiograms (EKGs) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometers (FTIRs), among others.
Additionally, the intrinsic connectivity, processing power, and proliferation of specialized apps and smartphone compatible software makes smartphones excellent candidates to use as components of distributed and mobile sensing networks of many kinds. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Activity (DARPA) SIGMA program has demonstrated a distributed network of handheld and vehicle-based radiation detectors that uses in part cell phone processing and connectivity to produce a scalable network system for continuous, real-time nuclear and radiological threat monitoring. The current DARPA SIGMA+ program is expanding on this model to include a network of chemical and biological sensors. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and Synthesis (AUDREY) tool connect[s] with sensors on first responder’s personal protective equipment (PPE) and with information provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) through a suite of plugin tools, uses artificial intelligence to process the input data, then automatically provide[s] individually curated insight to those on the ground while delivering global situational awareness to incident response managers.
IARPA’s SILMARILS and MAEGLIN programs are developing compact sensor hardware for chemical detection on surfaces and in the gas phase, respectively. These sensors will need real-time processing capability, and have the potential to be deployed in a variety of mobile and stationary networked configurations to meet the requirements of a number of different chemical detection scenarios. The use of smartphones for local processing and/or sensor network connectivity is a likely use case scenario for both of these IARPA efforts, as well as a number of other Department of Defense and Homeland Security applications.
The use of smartphones both for their intrinsic capabilities (processing, data streaming, GPS), and as processors for other compact sensors can place a significant thermal burden on the smartphone’s electronics, especially when the phone is operated under challenging ambient conditions, such as inside of a stationary vehicle without climate control. According to Society of Automotive Engineers publications, when temperatures outside range from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 114 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.1 And the internal temperature of a smartphone under steady use can be significantly hotter than the ambient temperature. A phone used as a processor for a vehicle mounted sensor would quite likely be in use in a parked car. Additionally, even if a smartphone is powered off and simply stored in a hot vehicle, irreversible battery damage is likely at temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and at temperatures approaching 170 degrees Fahrenheit the battery may rupture, catch fire, or even explode, leading to destruction of the phone, associated sensors, and even the vehicle it was left in.
This RFI seeks novel, and aesthetically complimentary form factor approaches to a cooling solution for mobile devices, such as smart phones. The cooling solution must be designed to both mitigate the internal heat load from the device’s electronics under heavy use conditions, and shield the device from high ambient temperatures, up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. If the proposed cooling solution requires power, the power must be supplied within the form factor of the device, i.e. the cooling solution cannot tap the phone’s battery. Creative cooling solutions that do not use power are strongly encouraged. In the questions below the choice of a specific set of phone types and a specific high-processor-use application are intended to provide a defined internal heat load for calculation purposes, not to limit the brands or styles of smartphones that the cooling solution would be applicable to, or the types of processing that the cooling solution could enable.
Full information is available here.