The United States Army has begun field-testing off-the-shelf smartphones and tablets for use in combat in Texas and the New Mexico desert.
The Army is testing a variety of software applications that could potentially do things like stream video from surveillance cameras or access remote databases using iOS and Android devices,.
Using commercial developers as well as in-house personnel, the Army has developed around 85 applications and invested about $4.2 million in the project. Though they already have the technology to do the things they want to do with the smartphones, using consumer technology could help them deploy it better, since the devices are lighter, easier to use, and relatively inexpensive.
With common consumer equipment being used by troops, the Army could redirect resources to develop software specific to missions or mission types. An app being tested called “SoldierEyes” uses a camera and augmented reality to provide real-time information on battlefield elements. While such concepts could prove extremely useful, the technology won’t be practical for battlefield use without a secure network backbone.
And hopeful iPhone owners shouldn’t go enlisting just yet; the army has no plans to put a smartphone in each soldier’s hand, but instead has specific positions in mind with which to implement the technology.
Project leader Michael McCarthy told wsj.com, “We want to give people the right phones for the right reasons, not just give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers.”
Photo: The Mirror
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