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Apple, Motorola, and others help the Pentagon develop wearables for soldiers

Pentagon (Gleason)
Regardless of its tumultuous relationship with the U.S. government regarding privacy and encryption, Apple — along with 161 other companies — decided to team up with the Pentagon to provide soldiers with flexible high-tech electronic sensors, reports Reuters.

The partnership, dubbed the FlexTech Alliance, includes companies and universities such as Apple, Boeing, Motorola, Qualcomm, MIT, Harvard University, NYU, and many more. The alliance will team up with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop wearable technology that could be used in military devices for soldiers.

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“I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided box and invest in innovation here in Silicon Valley.”

The flexible wearable technology would provide soldiers with real-time information on their clothing, gear, or even the surface of a ship or warplane. Of course, the development of new wearable tech could have many more implications, such as giving soldiers a way to take a peek at the immediate surrounding area or indicate how many rounds they have left in their weapons, for example.

In order to make this technology, however, the Pentagon’s partners also need to develop “high-end printing technologies,” such as 3D printing.

According to the report, the U.S. government will contribute $75 million over a span of five years to fund the research, while companies under the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory will throw in an additional $90 million. Finally, local governments will contribute another $6 million to the efforts, bringing the total to $171 million.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the partnership between tech companies, universities, and the government was inevitable, due to the rapid development of both Silicon Valley and the technologies that companies around the country develop.

“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,” said Carter. “Now we’re taking another step forward.”

Of course, those who have been following the disagreements between tech companies like Apple and the government over encryption might be more surprised that the two sides are now working together on a project. According to several comments from Apple, it believes that people have a right to privacy and security online via encryption. The government, namely U.S. Homeland Security, believes that encryption hinders the ability of law enforcement and national security to properly perform their roles.

Regardless of earlier disagreements, it looks like Apple isn’t against lending the U.S. government a helping hand if it means the military benefits from the partnership.

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