Obama administration partners with industry giants like Apple to launch wearables research lab in Calif.


The White House announced a new research consortium on Friday that will bring together 162 organizations — including companies like Apple, Hewlett Packard and Qualcomm — to make sure the U.S. leads the development of “next-generation bendable and wearable electronic devices.”

With $171 million in funding, including $75 million of public money, the new Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Flexible Hybrid Electronics will be based in San Jose, Calif.

Researchers there will be working to install computer circuits on a stretchable platform. The technology could be used to improve things like wearable devices, medical equipment that monitors vital signs and embedded sensors in airplanes, according to a Friday news release.

Apple’s wearable the Apple Watch

The private sector has long been working to solve these problems, but the Obama Administration hopes to streamline development by bringing everyone together in one unified effort. Big names from a variety of industries have joined the project, like Corning, Eli Lilly, General Motors, General Electric, John Deere, Motorola, Sandisk and Kellogg. Noticeable companies not listed as participants include Microsoft, which has its Band fitness tracker, and Fitbit, which is a leader in wearable tech.

This innovation hub is the seventh of a planned nine facilities the government is launching, thought it’s the first on the West Coast. Others include a facility focused on 3D printing in Ohio and integrated photonics in New York.

The race is on to develop the next-generation of tiny computers that — literally — blend into the fabric of our daily lives. Projects like this, the White House says, will help make sure the U.S. is at the front of the pack.

“We can make critical bipartisan investments to strengthen manufacturing across the United States, laying a strong foundation for good jobs and economic growth—or we can pull back, letting other countries and their workers take the lead,” therelease from the White House reads.

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