Digital Sidekick for Submarine Watchstander Augmentation

Navy STTR 23.A - Topic N23A-T027
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N23A-T027   TITLE: Digital Sidekick for Submarine Watchstander Augmentation

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML); General Warfighting Requirements (GWR); Networked C3

OBJECTIVE: Develop a haptic alert system (Digital Sidekick for Submarine Watchstander) to substantially accelerate information delivery timelines for critical alerts, which can be delayed or completely missed due to information overload.

DESCRIPTION: Information overload is a critical factor negatively impacting the effectiveness of submarine watchstanders. Wrist or body worn haptic devices and haptic notifications have been shown to substantially shorten response times by immediately focusing attention on critical information or alerts being delivered by an artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) process designed to aid a watchstander. These devices are not currently deployed for submarine watchstations, Creating a process for accelerating delivery of critical information and alerts for submarine watchstanders can increase efficacy of numerous watchstations in time critical scenarios that will increase platform lethality, overall operational effectiveness, and platform survivability. This STTR topic seeks to deliver a haptic alert system that can be configured for a particular watchstation or individual to immediately alert and orient the person to critical information that requires urgent action. The principal objective will be to offer information delivery methods that cannot be missed in the most stressful scenarios, enabling a clear and focused response to the alert being provided. Key attributes for the project will include certainty of notification and watchstander awareness and understanding of information delivered which will result in measurable time savings for the required response. Ideal measure of effectiveness would include no missed alerts and substantially accelerated response times compared to scenarios without a haptic alert system.

PHASE I: Identify technical design options to enable haptic delivery of alerts for a variety of submarine watchstations (e.g., sonar, electronic warfare, roving watchstanders, etc.). Technical solutions should address certainty of alert, durability and resiliency of devices and systems being utilized to provide the alert, and methods to reduce false alerts. Establish the feasibility of the concepts. Work to identify suitable testing locations for Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deploy prototypes to suitable testing locations, including schoolhouse and platforms, to evaluate and determine impact of the prototype haptic critical alert and information delivery system(s). Work with users to define the most effective applications and use cases for most impactful technical applications for information delivery augmentation.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The products and capabilities developed under this topic will transition to submarine watchstanders that can benefit most from the new information delivery approach. It is envisioned that multiple approaches will be viable with ADNS/SWFTS, Sonar, EW, Engineering Space and Forward Roving watchstanders obtaining clear benefit from improved information delivery and receiving critical alerts immediately through haptic notification. A dual use commercial application could also be pursued with similar haptic alert applications in a variety of scenarios involving commercial power generation or mechanical fabrication facilities. Due to the routinely quiet and vibration free environment on a submarine, it is uniquely suited to benefitting from haptic information delivery technology, but some stationary or low noise/vibration monitoring activities in the commercial sector could also potentially benefit from this technical approach.


1.       Giri, G.S.; Maddahi, Y. and Zareinia, K. "An Application-Based Review of Haptics Technology." Robotics 2021, 10, 29.

2.       Hayward, Vincent. "Haptics: A Key to Fast Paced Interactivity." Center for Intelligent Machines, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

3.       Dix, Annika; Schwendicke, Anna; Pannasch, Sebastian; Altinsoy, Ercan; Helmert, Jens R. "Chapter 7 - Augmented Perception and Interaction." Tactile Internet Human-in-the-Loop, 2021,

4.       Almeida de Souza, Gabrielle et al. "Evaluation of Visual, Auditory and Vibro-Tactile Alerts in Supervised Interfaces." 20th Symposium on Virtual and Augmented Reality (SVR), 30 Oct. 2018.

5.       "Haptic Technology: The Future of Engagement?" MassChallenge, 23 September 2021,


KEYWORDS: Haptic; Perception; Multisensory; Feedback; Information Overload; Critical Alert; Interaction; Digital Sidekick; Watchstander Augmentation; Kinesthetic Feedback; Wearable Devices

TPOC-1: Robert Palisin

Email: [email protected]


TPOC-2: Nicholas Balk 

Email: [email protected]


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.A STTR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.A STTR Topics pre-release on January 11, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on February 8, 2023, and closes March 8, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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