We’ve written extensively about wearable tech here at Wall Street Daily – but the latest news in this industry could be the biggest yet.
On Friday, United States Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon will fund a new project to develop flexible, wearable sensor technology for the U.S. military.
The Pentagon will partner with 162 companies, universities, and non-profits as part of the so-called Flexible Electronic Hybrid Institute. Some of the biggest names in electronics, artificial intelligence, sensors, and semiconductors will take part in the consortium, including Apple (AAPL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Applied Materials (AMAT), and Qualcomm (QCOM).
According to Reuters, the group will aim to develop high-end 3-D printing technologies that can create stretchable electronics. The products could be worn by soldiers – think smart textiles that monitor a soldier’s vitals – but they could also be inserted into small cracks on weapons or ships to monitor structural integrity.
Given the focus on 3-D printing, the Pentagon seems to be interested in cheap, easily replicated materials that can be created on an as-needed basis, perhaps even in the field.
“For those interested in foreign policy and national security, there are lots of interesting challenges and problems to work on,” Defense Secretary Carter said. “And that’s also true for those interested in technology. But the intersection of the two is an opportunity-rich environment.”
The Pentagon will provide $75 million toward the initiative, while another $96 million will come from the industry, academia, and local governments, according to The Associated Press.
Ultimately, the Flexible Electronic Hybrid Institute’s initiative isn’t just exciting for national security – it could be huge for everyday consumers, too.
After all, military technology has often expanded beyond its original purpose and found a foothold in the mainstream – think GPS, penicillin, radar, Jeeps, Hummers, and drones. Thus, it’s not a stretch to think that the future of wearable consumer technology will be jump-started by the Pentagon’s interest in military tech.