The U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Project Activity (IARPA) plans to weave hidden spy technology – such as geolocation sensors and cameras – into clothing for potential use by civilians, military personnel, and law enforcement.

The Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (Smart ePants) program seeks to develop clothing with integrated audio, video, and geolocation sensor systems that feature the same stretchability, bendability, washability, and comfort as regular textiles.

“By weaving these devices directly into garments, Intelligence Community staff will be able to record information from their environment hands-free, without the need to wear uncomfortable, bulky, and rigid devices,” according to IARPA.

The “smart pants” will ensure personnel have a more range of motion, improving their response time in challenging circumstances.

Essentially, Smart ePants will turn clothing into high-tech spy wear, constantly monitoring and recording everything a person sees and hears while reading their geolocation every 10 minutes.

According to IARPA, some potential applications for Smart ePants include law enforcement, international weapons inspections, the medical field, sports performance, and communications.

Earlier last year, IARPA released a request for information (RFI) seeking ideas from research and development organizations to develop sensor systems into pants while still having the same usability as regular clothes.

Six months after releasing the RFI, IARPA announced that the Smart ePants project got the green light.

IARPA plans to leverage new and enabling research to transfer many of the capabilities of rigid wearable electronics to enhance the design and performance of Advanced Smart Textile (AST) systems – think clothing embedded with an array of active technology capabilities.

“To transfer this research into AST products, revolutionary new materials and manufacturing techniques are needed to develop complete and integrated systems containing mechanically deformable and durable” capabilities, IARPA said. Those include power sources, sensors, computation and data storage, and electrically conductive system component “wires” and interconnects.

Research committed to developing these systems will be divided into three demonstration tracks: audio recording, video and photography capture, and indoor geolocation.

Read More About
More Topics
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.