The Pentagon today announced a partnership with 162 companies and universities — including Apple, Boeing, and Harvard — to develop and produce a line of high-tech military gear designed to be flexible enough to be worn by both soldiers and even be “molded onto the outside of a jet” (via Reuters). The forward thrust of consumer technology is generating more trust for the Pentagon in the companies of Silicon Valley, a move that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been attempting to guide for a few years.
“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 would use advanced printing processes to produce “stretchable electronics” that would be outfitted with an array of sensors to be able to track everything from the vitals of the soldier wearing it to the structural integrity of the ship or warplane to which it is attached. All told, the United States government has confirmed it will contribute $75 million over the course of five years for the project, with the partnered companies offering another $90 million, and local government contributions bringing the grand total to just north of $171 million.