Tags: pentagon | wearable | tech | sensors | ashton carton | california

Pentagon Teams With Apple, Boeing to Develop Wearable Tech

Image: Pentagon Teams With Apple, Boeing to Develop Wearable Tech
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. (Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 28 August 2015 06:28 AM

The Pentagon is teaming up with Apple, Boeing, Harvard and others to develop high-tech sensory gear — using cutting-edge electronics and sensors — flexible enough to be worn by people or molded onto the outside of a jet or ship.

The rapid development of new technologies is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing its technology itself, defense officials say.

"I've been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided box and invest in innovation here in Silicon Valley and in tech communities across the country," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in prepared remarks on Friday.

"Now we're taking another step forward."

The new technology aims to use high-end printing technologies to create stretchable electronics that could be embedded with sensors and worn by soldiers, a defense official said, and could ultimately be used on ships or warplanes for real-time monitoring of their structural integrity.

The U.S. government is contributing $75 million over five years, he said, and companies, managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million, with local governments chipping in more to take the total to $171 million.

The consortium, called the Flexible Hybrid Electronic Institute, will be led by California-based FlexTech Alliance and be made up of 162 companies, universities and other groups from Boeing, Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Carter is due to announce the award formally in a speech on Friday at Moffett Federal Airfield, which is operated by NASA's Ames Research Center near Mountain View, in Silicon Valley.

During his first trip as secretary to California in April, Carter launched a new program called Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental aimed at scouting out promising emerging technologies and beefing up the Pentagon's ability to work with high-tech firms. On Friday he will visit the unit's new office.

One of Carter's much-repeated goals is to build better relations with high-tech industry in order to better equip the military force of the future.

Officials are also making a strategic bet that the innovations that spring from the projects will have commercial uses too.

"For those interested in foreign policy and national security, there are lots of interesting challenges and problems to work on," Carter will say in the speech. "And that's also true for those interested in technology. But the intersection of the two is an opportunity-rich environment."

The light-weight sensors project is the seventh such private-public partnership to be announced by the Obama administration. Six are led by the Defense Department and this one will be managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory. Two more are planned.

The defense chief also plans to meet the Defense Science Board for a briefing on a study it is doing on the level of autonomy that military drones and robots should have in future.

The Pentagon's initial experience with the institutes was in 2012 when it established one to help develop 3-D printing.

The Associated Press and Reuters were used in this report.

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The Pentagon is teaming up with Apple, Boeing, Harvard and others to develop high-tech sensory gear - using cutting-edge electronics and sensors - flexible enough to be worn by people or molded onto the outside of a jet or ship. The rapid development of new technologies is...
pentagon, wearable, tech, sensors, ashton carton, california
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2015-28-28
Friday, 28 August 2015 06:28 AM
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