Tech giants including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have been experimenting with bioengineering technology for years, but the field has yet to achieve the scale required to commercialize.
Now, with a $2.4 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Defense is making the technology accessible to the general public.
In a recent demonstration, a team of engineers strapped a backpack-like device to the torso of a human, who was then able to move it by squeezing a button on a smartphone app.
The device measured the force of the wearer’s body weight, which was then transmitted to a mobile app, which then relayed it to a microchip implanted in the wearer.
That microchip was then used to generate a pattern of electrical signals that would allow the wearer to activate a bioengineer suit, which would send the wearer into the next stage of the process.
While this demonstration was an early step in the development of bioengineers, DARPA officials hope that the device can eventually be used in larger-scale applications, such as manufacturing, and in the medical field as well.
“The next step will be to start developing this in the field,” DARPA Director Mike Pompeo told reporters last month.
“It’s not just about a bioengineering garment, but it’s about creating the next generation of bioengineering garments.”
The Bioengineering Lab at the Department, which is located in Arlington, Virginia, is the only bioengineering lab in the United States, according to DARPA.
The labs, which are designed to be highly effective, include bioengineery and bioengineering materials.
The Bioengineering Laboratory was established in 1992.
In 2015, DARP awarded $2 million to the National Bioengineering Research Center, or BIRC, to begin development of the next-generation bioengineerers, which DARPA has described as “large-scale, highly effective bioengineERs.”BIRC is the first bioengineering institute dedicated exclusively to bioengineering, according a DARPA statement.
It is also the first research institution dedicated to developing a bio-engineer system and the first Bioengineering Institute in the U.S. The BIRc Bioengineering Office is based in Arlington.
The BioEngineering Lab at DARPA is located at the Arlington, Va., headquarters of the Department.