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Pursuing Electronics That Bend, Pentagon Advances Partnership With Tech Firms

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The Pentagon, Apple and NASA are jointly developing flexible electronics for military use, such as computer displays that can fold around the arm.

A new Pentagon project aimed at developing flexible electronic devices will tap the expertise of Silicon Valley companies and scientists.

Credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced a Pentagon project to develop flexible electronic devices with Silicon Valley companies and scientists. He says the Pentagon will grant $75 million in seed money to develop a Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub in San Jose, CA.

"By seamlessly printing lightweight, flexible structural integrity sensors right onto the surfaces of our ships and aircraft, or folding them into cracks and crevices where rigid circuit boards and bulky wiring could never fit, we'll be able to have real-time damage reports--making the stuff of science fiction into reality," Carter says.

He also notes soldiers could use sensors and electronic equipment embedded in their attire, and the technology could be used to develop smart prosthetics for wounded troops that could have "the full flexibility of human skin."

Carter says the tech industry has long been hesitant to approach the Pentagon to bring their work to the military to help share technologies for the mutual benefit of both sectors. "We're drilling tunnels through that wall that separates government from scientists and commercial technologists--making it more permeable so more of America's brightest minds can contribute to our mission of national defense, even if only for a time," he says.

From The Wall Street Journal
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