Composed of special polymer gels, the second skin would detect harmful agents and quickly react, closing any gaps in the “fabric” to prevent the gas or biologic from passing through. There would also be neutralization function, whereby the second skin would “deactive” the harmful chemical or biological agent, according to the Army release.
“Anthrax, for instance, is one of the biggest threats,” D’Angelo said in the release. “So we need to find a way to detect it and kill it onsite.”
But the military already routinely vaccinates deploying service members against anthrax. The second skin might in theory help protect troops from chemical attacks, according to Mark Coggeshall, an anthrax expert at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. But Coggeshall said that as an anthrax defense the smart underwear is at best redundant and, at worst, utterly ineffective.
For starters, it won’t be able to sense an anthrax attack, the scientists claimed. “As far as I know, there’s no easy way to detect anthrax spores [in advance],” Coggeshall told The Daily Beast.