Pentagon Is Funding New High-Tech Venture

Defense Secretary Ash Carter [announced 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...

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