Self Destruct Spy Gadgets a Reality?


“This message will self-destruct in 3…2…1…” is a line we see in spy movies. But are self-destruct gadgets going to be a reality in the near future?

According to CNET, vanishing spy technology is being funded by the US military. Xerox, IBM, and Honeywell are being tasked to come up with “Mission Impossible” style gadgetry that will vanish or decompose once it has served its purpose.

The new tech is being called VAPR, no, not the indoor cigarettes your cool aunt is smoking now. VAPR stands for Vanishing Programmable Resources, a new program created by DARPA, which stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. VAPR, in simple terms, is technology that grants items to self-destruct either on demand or at a pre-set time.

According to Darpa:

“Sophisticated electronics can be made at low cost and are increasingly pervasive throughout the battlefield. Large numbers can be widely proliferated and used for applications such as distributed remote sensing and communications. However, it is nearly impossible to track and recover every device resulting in unintended accumulation in the environment and potential unauthorized use and compromise of intellectual property and technological advantage.

The Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program seeks electronic systems capable of physically disappearing in a controlled, triggerable manner. These transient electronics should have performance comparable to commercial-off-the-shelf electronics, but with limited device persistence that can be programmed, adjusted in real-time, triggered, and/or be sensitive to the deployment environment.

VAPR seeks to enable transient electronics as a deployable technology. To achieve this goal, researchers are pursuing new concepts and capabilities to enable the materials, components, integration, and manufacturing that will realize this new class of electronics.

Transient electronics may enable a number of revolutionary military capabilities including sensors for conventional indoor/outdoor environments, environmental monitoring over large areas, and simplified diagnosis, treatment, and health monitoring in the field. Large-area distributed networks of sensors that can decompose in the natural environment (ecoresorbable) may provide critical data for a specified duration, but no longer. Alternatively, devices that resorb into the body (bioresorbable) may aid in continuous health monitoring and treatment in the field.”

Or in layman’s terms, they want to send gadgets or robots to different enemy countries and detonate them before they are found.

DARPA has already sent out contract to IBM for $3.5 million, $2.5 million to Honeywell, and $2.1 million to Xerox.

The three major companies are working on different ways to make the VAPR a reality. IBM is coming up with ways on how obliterate a semi-conductor by turning it into silicon powder. Xerox is working on a gadget that is held together by pressure which when released disintegrates the whole device. At Honeywell, they are trying to make gadgets that mimic biological species in the sense that what they’re creating have a pre-determined life span.

Aside from making these cool gadgets that can be used for military and intelligence gathering applications, DARPA says that vanishing technology can also be used in the medical field to save lives and what not.


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