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Pentagon taps Boeing, Apple, Harvard to develop wearable tech for soldiers

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September 1
10:34 AM 2015

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on August 8 gave $75 million to FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of giant tech and research firms, to develop an electronic device small enough for soldiers to carry.

Some of the 162 companies include Apple, Boeing, Harvard University, Kalamanzoo Valley Community College, and Advantest Akron Polymer Systems. The government gave the funds asking the alliance to develop electronic systems that have sensors flexible enough for soldiers to wear or enough to be mounted to the skin of a plane.

These technologies will be flexible hybrid electronics that can be twisted, and bent so it would fit inside aircrafts or other platforms convenient for government necessities.

Speaking at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Carter said, "This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products."

The team in Silicon Valley will deal with "high-performance packaging and printing techniques, to integrate multiple silicon circuits and sensors on a single stretchable or wearable platform." The government's goal is to create a next level wearable device that can monitor vital signs and physical states to provide a better quality of life for people.

This project is one of the parts of a bigger network intended by the government to create innovations in new technologies to get a head start on advanced manufacturing. This will lead to more jobs and investments.

Besides the $75 million, the consortium will also add $90 million. The local government will also contribute to the funding. This will bring the total funding to $171 million.

The rapid development in technologies all over the world prompted the Pentagon to create partnerships with private companies, instead of developing it themselves. Carter encouraged his department to think outside the five-sided box and start thinking Silicon Valley.

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