“This spyware device will self-destruct in 60 seconds.” Sci-fi? No, it’s the design of the U.S. military’s VAPR (for Vanishing Programmable Resources) research and development progrm.

Research program manager Dr. Alicia Jackson says “VAPR will focus on developing and establishing a basic set of materials, components, integration, and manufacturing capabilities to undergird this new class of electronics defined by their performance and transience. This program follows on [DARPA research which demonstrated that a water droplet can dissolve electronic components of a transient electronic device including transistors, diodes, inductors, capacitors, and resistors together on a thin silk substrate] and seeks to develop the technology through the demonstration of a basic circuit.”

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Photo courtesy of DARPA

The research stems from research into transient electronics which would be placed into the human body to fight off an infection and then, after a certain period of time, would simply “melt away” and be flushed out of the body. These special electronics would be harmless to both the human body and the natural environs.

A DARPA announcement tells us “The efficacy of the technological capability developed through VAPR will be demonstrated by building transient sensors with RF links representative of what might be used to sense environmental or biomedical conditions and communicate with a remote user. [Placed into the environment these transient sensors gather] critical data for a specified duration, but no longer [after which they] “decompose in the natural environment.” That natural environment, of course, may be the body of a spy or soldier.
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Image courtesy of DARPA

And you thought those “alien implant” stories were all just fantasies!