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Pentagon works with MIT to set up institute for textiles

The Pentagon has teamed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the creation of an institute which will develop high-tech fibers and textiles. The Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and bring together a consortium of 89 universities, manufacturers and non-profit organisations.

By bringing together high-tech firms and textile makers, the institute aims to create fabrics that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color, and more. The non-profit institute will seek to enable new defense and commercial applications such as shelters with power generation and storage capacity built into the fabric, and uniforms that can regulate temperature and detect chemical and radioactive threats.

The institute would pair companies like audio equipment maker Bose, computer chip maker Intel, and nanofiber manufacturer FibeRio with textile manufacturers and users such as Warwick Mills and shoemaker New Balance. In addition to the $75 million from the Defense Department, the institute will be funded with nearly $250 million from non-federal sources.

The Pentagon is the headquarters of the US Department of Defense and, encompassing more than six million square feet of floor space, ranks among the largest office buildings in the world.