Apple and more partnering with U.S. Department of Defense to develop wearable tech for the military

162 companies including Apple, universities, and other groups are partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop wearable tech for the military.

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.

In addition to Apple, the FlexTech alliance includes Boeing, Harvard University, Advantest Akron Polymer Systems, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The research and development program will be based out of a new lab in San Jose, California.

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