IBM scores DARPA contract to develop self-destructing VAPR

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 6, 2014
IBM scores DARPA contract to develop self-destructing VAPR

IBM has been in the news frequently this month, the latest of which involves a new contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — better known as DARPA — to bring its Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) to reality, making self-destructing electronics a variable technology.

The idea behind VAPR electronics is both simple and ambitious — developing electronics that can completely self-destruct, “capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggered manner.” The performance of such devices could end up being comparable to their commercial equivalent, but can be destroyed if necessary.

IBM ultimately beat out other contenders for the contract with its proposal: electronics that are fitted with a system where a radio-frequency is used as a trigger system for breaking a thin glass coating. Once broken, the material would render the device’s silicon chip into dust, keeping it from enemy hands.

VAPRware, as some are calling it, would ultimately be used for a variety of in-the-field tasks, such as with sensors for monitoring locations, and health monitoring, diagnoses, and treatment for those in the field. This represents a $3.4 million deal for IBM, and follows the sale of 900 or so patents to Twitter.


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