Radiation-detecting clothing may be thing of the present

Story highlights

  • The $317 million effort will be backed by $75 million in Defense funds and nearly $250 million in non-federal investment
  • Some of the projects envision by the department include integrating fabric and fibers with things like LED lights, solar cells, computer chips and audio equipment

Washington (CNN)Clothing that can detect chemical weapons or radiation. Tents that hum with electricity. U.S. Defense officials want to make these ideas and others a reality.

The Defense Department announced Friday a new innovation institute that will focus on creating "revolutionary" fibers and textiles, bringing together the best of the private sector, academia and nonprofits to come up with new materials.
    The innovation hub will be organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and bring together 89 universities, manufacturers and nonprofits, according to a Defense Department statement. Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Alliance, a consortium built across sectors, won the bid to lead the effort.
    Defense Secretary Ash Carter will speak about the new program in Massachusetts on Friday morning.
    The $317 million plan will be backed by $75 million in Defense funds and nearly $250 million in non-federal investment.
    Some of the projects envision by the department include integrating fabric and fibers with things like LED lights, solar cells, computer chips and audio equipment.
    The results could be inventions such as "shelters with power generation and storage capacity built into the fabric, ultra-efficient, energy-saving filters for vehicles, and uniforms that can regulate temperature and detect threats like chemical and radioactive elements in order to warn servicemen and women and first responders," according to the release.
    The new initiative is part of a greater push under the Obama administration to build manufacturing partnerships in the Defense Department.
    This new institute is the sixth manufacturing hub to be awarded by the Obama administration through the Department of Defense, including experimenting with 3D printing, photonics and metals.