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Pentagon Funding New High-Tech Venture 08/28 06:15

   Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce Friday that the Pentagon is 
funding a new venture to develop cutting-edge electronics and sensors that can 
flex and stretch and could be built into clothing or the skins of ships and 
aircraft.

   NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce 
Friday that the Pentagon is funding a new venture to develop cutting-edge 
electronics and sensors that can flex and stretch and could be built into 
clothing or the skins of ships and aircraft.

   The high-tech investment could lead to wearable health monitors that could 
be built into military uniforms or used to assist the elderly. Or it could 
foster thin, bendable sensors that could be tucked into cracks or crevices on 
weapons, ships or bridges where bulky wiring could never fit. The sensors could 
telegraph structural problems or trigger repair alerts.

   Under the plan, the Pentagon will provide $75 million and industry, academia 
and local government will contribute $96 million over five years to a newly 
created high-tech innovation institute.

   The consortium, called the Flexible Hybrid Electronic Institute, will be led 
by California-based FlexTech Alliance and be made up of 162 companies, 
universities and other groups.

   Carter plans to lay out the details in a speech Friday in California's 
Silicon Valley. This is Carter's second trip to the technology hub in four 
months, as he works to get the Defense Department to increasingly tap into the 
region's high-tech expertise and workforce.

   "Given what we've already done, there's truly no limit to what we can 
achieve together," said Carter, in an excerpt of his speech provided to 
reporters. "That's why 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. And now we're taking another step forward."

   During his first trip in April, Carter launched a new program called Defense 
Innovation Unit - Experimental aimed at scouting out promising emerging 
technologies and beefing up the Pentagon's ability to work with high-tech 
firms. On Friday he will visit the unit's new office.

   One of Carter's much-repeated goals is to build better relations with 
high-tech industry in order to better equip the military force of the future.

   According to a senior defense official, using such partnerships allows the 
department to pursue technologies it might not otherwise be able to invest in. 
And officials are making a strategic bet that the innovations that spring from 
the projects would also have commercial uses. The official was not authorized 
to discuss the issue prior to public release so spoke on condition of anonymity.

   "For those interested in foreign policy and national security, there are 
lots of interesting challenges and problems to work on," said Carter in another 
speech excerpt. "And that's also true for those interested in technology. But 
the intersection of the two is an opportunity-rich environment?."

   According to the Pentagon, flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing is an 
innovative process at the intersection of the electronics industry and the 
high-precision printing industry. It can create light-weight sensors that can 
conform to the curves of the human body or stretch across the structure of an 
object.

   The winning consortium includes major companies like Apple, United 
Technologies and Hewlett Packard with others that can embed these flexible, 
bendable electronics into everything from medical devices to supersonic jets.

   This project is the seventh such private-public partnership to be announced 
by the Obama administration. Six are led by the Defense Department and this one 
will be managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

   Earlier this month Vice President Joe Biden unveiled one focused on 
photonics research in Rochester, N.Y., while others included a 3D printing 
technology hub in Youngstown, Ohio and an advanced materials center in 
Knoxville, Tennessee, Biden's office said.


(KA)


 
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