What will soldiers wear in the future?

Pentagon to work with tech giants on wearables for soldiers

The Pentagon has teamed up with some of the world’s leading technology companies to develop high-end wearables for military purposes. 

According to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the Pentagon has been forced to seek partners to help it look into the new developments by the extremely fast-paced changes in the industry.

"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," Carter said. "Now we're taking another step forward."

Apple, Boeing and Harvard have been named among the Pentagon’s partners in the FlexTech Alliance involving 162 companies, universities and research groups overall.

The alliance will focus on developing high-tech printing technologies for the manufacturing of stretchable electronics that could be embedded with sensors and worn by soldiers. The Pentagon envisions the flexible electronics eventually being used on ships or warplanes for real-time monitoring of their structural integrity.

The US government will pay $75m over five years towards the research that will be managed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory. Private firms will contribute a further $90m and local governments are expected to add a total of approximately $171m.

The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalise several US manufacturing sectors, including defence-related operations.

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

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