The Army will be testing consumer-grade iPhones, Androids, and tablet devices for combat next week.
On Monday, Army soldiers will take the devices into the U.S. desert and test a variety of applications that would put information at the fingertips of soldiers in the field, according to a story in the WSJ. Using the apps soldiers could do things like download up-to-the-minute data from a remote database or stream video from a surveillance camera. Another example given by the WSJ was an iPhone, Android, or Tablet application on which soldiers could watch full-motion video shot from a drone.
Though field officers are equipped with high-tech equipment already, if smartphones and tablets prove to be worth their mettle in next week’s tests, they could provide lightweight highly portable replacements for the bulky equipment currently in use.
Over the next six weeks, Army soldiers of the Second Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, will test the devices, seeing if they can perform in the rough desert terrain of Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range. The consumer-grade devices will be folded into a “wider Army evaluation of communication gear,” according to the WSJ.
Eventually, iPhone, Android and tablet devices, complete with specialized apps, could become handy tools in military operations. The Army, for example, would like to develop apps that monitor soldiers’ biometrics, thereby immediately alerting medics when someone is wounded in action. Another app, called “Soldier Eyes,” allows soldiers to see a digital map of the battlefield, and an augmented reality mode–like Google Goggles or Layar–that would let the soldier see landmarks when pointing the phones camera in certain directions.
According to the WSJ, the Army is testing 85 digital applications, designed both by commercial designers and by in-house Army designers, across Apple and Android devices.