DOD SBIR 24.4 Annual

Release Date
October 3rd, 2023
Open Date
October 3rd, 2023
Due Date(s)
March 31st, 2025
Close Date
March 31st, 2025
Topic No.


Non-RF Transceiver Alternative Communicator (NRF-TAC)  


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the Non-RF Transceiver Alternative Communicator (NRF-TAC) through its SBIR program. The U.S. Army is interested in developing a small, energy-efficient, self-contained transceiver that can wirelessly communicate between two points without using traditional radio frequency (RF) transport. The NRF-TAC device should be capable of transmitting and receiving signaling up to 300 meters using non-standard means such as magnetic, acoustic, or infrared, which are difficult to detect and report in covert activities. The device should be easily concealable, field programmable, and able to operate for at least 800 hours without intervention. The Phase I of the project will involve the creation and delivery of a plausible design, while Phase II will focus on developing and testing a prototype. The project aligns with the Army's smart sensing initiatives and aims to provide an innovative means of low probability of detection (LPD) and low probability of interception (LPI) communications. The solicitation is open until March 31, 2025. For more information, visit the SBIR topic link or the solicitation agency website.


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Sensing and Cyber; Advanced Materials


OBJECTIVE: The U.S Army seeks to develop a small energy efficient self-contained transceiver capable of communicating between two points wirelessly without using the traditional RF transport medium. The U.S. Army is interested in developing an NRF-TAC device that can transmit and receive signaling of up to 300 meters without the use of the traditional radio frequency. The goal for the NRF-TAC solution is to utilize a non-standard means of signal communication, such as magnetic, acoustic, or infrared that is difficult to detect and report in an environment of highly covert activity. Utilization of the NRF-TAC will create new mission deployment possibilities for operation and control of remote sensors.


DESCRIPTION: Efficient and effective operation of an unattended Non-RF Transceiver Alternative Communicator (NRF-TAC) is needed in an environment of highly mobile activity requiring the ability to remotely communicate on-demand with a very small Size, Weight, and Power (SWAP) profile. The signal communication medium may be, but not limited to, acoustic, infrared, or ultraviolet. The messaging between NRF-TAC devices must be highly resistant to interference, detection, and exploitation to ensure consistent and stable operations. The NRF-TAC must be self-contained (i.e., require no external cabling), be man-portable, be easily concealable, and be field programmable. The NRF-TAC must be able to operate for at least 800 hours without operator intervention. The SBIR effort will be to design and build an innovative NRF-TAC prototype device capable of being demonstrated in a realistic field application. This effort aligns with multiple areas of the Army including smart sensing as well as providing an innovative alternate means of low probability of detection (LPD) and low probability of interception (LPI) communications.


PHASE I: The evaluation of the Phase I proposals will be based on probability of functionality, form, durability and sustainability. During Phase I, up to 5 awardees will create and deliver a plausible design to communicate wirelessly without the use of RF between two points with at least one point remotely configurable operating without external power. In the development of the design, a fully documented rationale supporting the design shall be created. The rationale shall be based on research, sound engineering, component availability and market surveys capturing a performance-based analysis including effective signaling, efficiencies in autonomous operation, maximum distance between two points and reliability. The proposed final product cost assessment shall also be provided. Each awardee shall complete Phase I by submitting the hardware design, a documented description of operation and written narrative as to the rationale supporting the solution as designed. Additionally, a proposed means of assessing performance by using test methods that include inspection, analysis, demonstrate or test for each performance factor captured in a spreadsheet, commonly referred to as a verification cross-reference matrix (VCRM).


PHASE II: Each Phase II awardee will develop and test a prototype that demonstrates the ability to communicate between two points without RF autonomously without external power in accordance with the TPOC-approved VCRM derived from phase I. The distance between points, as well as effective signaling will also be evaluated. The prototype system shall demonstrate the ability to deploy and sustain operations without external power or operator intervention. Operating efficiencies including longevity of operation without refresh and the programmability will also be evaluated. All awardees will complete phase II by delivering a fully documented prototype system including operating instructions, interface control document (ICD), programmability commands and characterization.



Academic research has shown the efficacy of NRF sensor technology, like magnetic and infrared sensors, in environments where RF sensors’ ability is abated and needs more energy to operate.​ 
Research has further underscored that NRF sensors are preferred over RF for commercials uses like home security, automotive crash sensing, and additive manufacturing. ​ 
Current market applications, including start-up usage, for NRF-TAC include:​ 
		Internet of Things (IoT), which enables commercial applications like home security, healthcare, and underwater monitoring. ​ 
		Additive manufacturing, ranging from infrared and ultraviolet quality control.​ 
		Automotive and transportation industry, augmenting automobile and railroad safety as well as enabling autonomous vehicles, via infrared and acoustic sensing.  



A Novel Magnetic Induction Communication Transmitter Based on a Mechanical Antenna (02/2020, Liu, Cao, Gong)  
Tracking an LED array transmitter for visible light communications in the driving situation (09/2010, Nagura, Yamazato, Katayama, Yendo, Fujii, Okada)  
Modeling of Short-Range Ultraviolet Communication Channel Based on Spherical Coordinate System (02/2019, Wu, Ma, Su, Yuan, Cheng)  

Design and implementation of a new infrared transmitter and receiver (05/2012, Wang, Li, Zhao) 


KEYWORDS:  Transceiver; Non-RF; Signal Communication; Alternative Communicator; NRF-TAC; Sensors; Low Probability of Detection (LPD)