US Defense Headquarters Pentagon has decided to award $75 million to a consortium of Apple, Beoing and others to develop a high-end wearable watch for the US soldiers which would be flexible and can even be molded onto the skin of an aircraft.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the funding to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing, Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, would be the first of its kind.
The manufacture of an ambitious flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform would revolutionize the way US military seeks to use the gadgets for its soldiers.
“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,” Carter said, while speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley last weekend.
The consortium will get a total of $171 million in over five-year term. This is the first time the Pentagon is seeking private sector partnership as it had always kept such projects within its fold. “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 explained.
The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, to based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration to revitalize the tech-edge to conform the modern day requirement. The first such institute was established in 2012 to develop 3-D printing.
In addition, Pentagon is also planning autonomous military drones and robots in the future after its over-dependence on drones in combat zones, especially Afghanistan and other terrorist-ridden areas.