The Armor of the Future is Armani

The soldier is modeling the 2030 Future Soldier Concept at the ASC 2008 exhibition hall, which runs from about 10:00 am until 6:30 pm. Showing off his Star Wars attire, he's all good posture and game face, but when I run into him in the elevator at the end of the day, he looks like he wants to unzip his own skin. I assume it's because the faux armor is heavy. "No," he says miserably. "The fabric is really itchy." But the next morning he's back, and you would never know he's remotely uncomfortable. That Army training is formidable.

Before you get too excited, I should mention that this is what the US Army plans to put on our soldiers around 2030. If you want to see it before that, you'll have to stick with your local Star Wars convention.

The material may not be carbon nanotube fiber with electronic-based ink circuits, but it is in fact Armani. Dutch Degay of the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachussetts says his group got it as part of a last run of Armani fabric because it was such a perfect visual match for the nanotube fiber and e-ink circuit material they wanted for their concept demonstration. When they first got the material, it was a lovely shade of cream. Then they heated it up to 140 degrees so that it could be dyed the tasteful brown shade you see above. "We totally ruined it," Dutch says, a little spitefully.


Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.