According to reports, the federal government is investing at least $22 million in developing surveillance clothing i.e. SMART ePANTS that “can record audio, video, and geolocation data.”

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the organization’s development and research division, “recently launched a cutting-edge program that seeks to make performance-grade, computerized clothing a reality,” according to a press release issued by the Director of National Intelligence’s office on August 22.

The DNI emphasized the SMART ePANTS program, which stands for Smart Electrically Powered or Networked Textile Systems “seeks to develop clothing with integrated audio, video, as well as geolocation sensor systems that feature the same stretchability, bendability, washability, as well as comfort of regular textiles,” according to IARPA.

They will be employed by the intelligence community, according to IARPA. The surveillance equipment will be woven into the clothing, allowing “Intelligence Community staff to record data gathered from their environment hands-free, with the need to carry uncomfortable, bulky, and rigid devices.”

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According to the press announcement, the technology might “assist personnel and first responders in dangerous, stressful circumstances, such as crime scenes and arms control inspections, without impeding their capacity to swiftly and safely operate.”

The goal of the SMART ePANTS program is to sew “sensor systems” into clothing such as shirts, trousers, socks, and undergarments.

According to The Intercept, the initiative has received at least $22 million in support from the federal government.

How much of a risk IARPA is taking with its investment is unclear. According to its website, the organization invests “federal funding into high-risk, high-reward projects to address challenges facing the intelligence community.”

The Pentagon’s Brain author Annie Jacobsen, who wrote a book about the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency titled “A lot of the IARPA and DARPA programs are like throwing spaghetti against the refrigerator,” told the site. It might or might not stick.

While he is “proud of the intelligence aspect” of the program, Dr. Dawson Cagle, an IARPA program manager who is in charge of the SMART ePANTS initiative, stated he is “excited about the possibilities that the program’s research will have for the greater world.” He claimed that his father, who had diabetes and required daily health checks, served as inspiration for the program in part.

The findings and his father’s knowledge support the idea that the parts of a computer “have already been developed, just as individual pieces,” he said. The objective of the initiative will have been accomplished, according to Dr. Cagle, if you can combine all of the parts into a single, wearable gadget.

Ms. Jacobsen issued a warning that the development of smart wearables could give rise to future worries about governmental biometric surveillance.

“They now have significant authority over you. Your hands can be swabbed by the TSA to check for explosives, Ms. Jacobsen told The Intercept. Imagine what would happen if SMART ePANTS detect a chemical on your skin.

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Nicole de Haay, a spokesperson for IARPA, refuted this claim by stating to the publication that the agency’s initiatives “are planned and conducted by, and adhere to, strong civil rights and privacy protection rules. Additionally, IARPA conducts compliance audits for civil liberties & privacy protection throughout our research initiatives.