The US authorities is investing in network-connected clothes by means of a program referred to as – we child you not – SMART ePANTS.
Last month, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which handles analysis and improvement for Uncle Sam’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, introduced the launch of a program referred to as Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems, which IARPA has lowered to SMART ePANTS.
A reputation like that’s the form of announcement one expects to see on an April 1 checklist, however IARPA has been attempting this concept on for measurement for some time now. It issued a Request for Information (RFI) in early 2022 to solicit proposals to create lively sensible textiles that may maintain troopers, first responders, and others secure “by sensing, processing and communicating information on individuals’ location and physical surroundings (audio and video recording).”
In July that yr SMART ePANTS program director Dr Dawson Cagle appeared in a video and defined the venture’s purpose is to take 4 established applied sciences – energy sources, sensors, computer systems/storage, and interconnects/haptics – and mix them right into a single garment.
“The SMART ePANTS goal is to take all of those individual components and to convert them, to integrate them into a single device that you can wear,” he stated within the vid.
The SMART ePANTS necessities … Click to enlarge
The title, we’re advised, was chosen to be “memorable and descriptive.”
Now the venture is transferring ahead with analysis contracts which have been awarded to SRI International, MIT, Nautilus Defense, Leidos, and Areté.
“The SMART ePANTS program’s goal is to build sensor systems that are comfortably integrated,” an IARPA spokesperson advised The Register. “The goal is not to extend the interface of a phone — IARPA seeks to weave components, like the ones inside a phone, into the garment itself.”
The company believes this may be achieved inside three and half years.
“To date, most of the work done on active smart textiles (AST) research was devoted to individual technical components,” the IARPA rep stated. “SMART ePANTS aims to integrate these AST components into fully functional sensor systems that also happen to be garments.”
IARPA expects the best technical challenges to be: sturdy wiring and interconnects between parts that may face up to stretching, bending, and washing; energy sources which have properties suited to textiles; consumer interfaces or haptics which might be each perform and nonetheless behave like material; and computer systems and knowledge storage that may be positioned on a textile substrate as an alternative of a inflexible circuit board.
SRI’s previous work on the SuperFlex Suit for DARPA’s Warrior Project hints at what SMART ePANTS may produce.
However, IARPA desires to push the state-of-the-art.
“SRI has an impressive history with integrating electronics onto a wearable platform, like DARPA’s Warrior Project,” IARPA’s spokesperson stated. “SRI’s knowledge in this area is certainly helpful, but it is their partnership with North Carolina State University (NCSU) that really makes this a powerful team in the SMART ePANTS program.”
“More than a decade ago, the National Science Foundation created the ASSIST Center at NCSU to support wearable electronics research for medical applications. IARPA hopes that the fusion of knowledge between these two institutions will give rise to paradigm-shifting innovation.”
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At the conclusion of DARPA’s Warrior Project, SRI director of robotics Rich Mahoney left to type an outfit named Seismic, which makes a powered vest that augments employees’ energy to scale back the danger of again harm from heavy or repetitive lifting.
A gross sales contractor working with the corporate advised The Register that Seismic remains to be promoting the primary model of its assistive vest and expects to have a second model prepared within the fourth quarter of the yr.
An August 9 contract announcement from the US Navy describes the analysis Nautilus Defense will undertake as associated to “singular micro yarn textile routing platform with unmatched low-power electronics.” The Rhode Island-based protection agency was awarded $11.6 million to develop network-capable textiles.
Leidos was awarded $10.6 million to “develop, integrate, fabricate, and test and delivery prototype wearable, washable garments that incorporate active smart textiles components.”
“The data-gathering capabilities provided by the SMART ePANTS program will also help arms control inspectors and law enforcement personnel to record information during their work without having to lug around cumbersome cameras or other recording equipment, focusing instead on staying safe in dangerous surroundings,” IARPA’s spokesperson stated. “Eventually, we hope that the technology will be adopted by medical appliances and sports performance applications.”
If you like to play together with the phantasm of privateness, sensible gadgets are a dumb thought
While the purpose of this system is to give cloths the potential to seize audio, video, and placement knowledge, IARPA expects the buyer advantage of this program will likely be versatile, washable computing parts quite than wearable sensors.
“When taken together, an integrated platform such as this would have enormous implications for the medical and sports industries,” IARPA’s spokesperson stated.
To date, efforts to commercialize sensible clothes have underwhelmed, a minimum of within the client market. Google talked up Project Jacquard, however lack of adoption prompted the advert biz to discontinue its Jacquard app earlier this yr.
That’s not notably stunning given the meager performance of Jacquard-based clothes, such because the Levi’s Trucker Jacket, which permits the wearer to swipe its sleeve to management primary smartphone capabilities.
Reg vulture Simon Sharwood has one of many Jacquard jackets and located it completely good clobber, although gimmicky quite than a major innovation.
“While researchers have been working diligently on [active smart textile] component development for over a decade, no entity has challenged the industry to fully integrate these solutions into a single system for a specific application,” IARPA’s spokesperson stated. “IARPA is proudly taking on this challenge.” ®
…. to be continued
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