Never one to be left behind when it comes to utilising new technologies, the American Army have fully jumped on board the smart phone app’s band wagon.
However, rather than hiring an expensive team of experts to create an arsenal of useful applications, they crowdsourced the task by running a competition.
The winners have been announced and, although most app’s are concerned with providing quick access to information, we can begin to see how the military might begin to start using this growing phenomenen.
‘Movement Projection’ & ‘Disaster Relief Operations’ are two app’s that demostrate the ability for improving real time information about the terrain.
‘Movement Projection’ will work out the best route for a soldier or convoy to take through an environment based on updated threats and obstacles.
‘Disaster Relief Operations’ is described as ’a web-based data survey, dissemination and analysis tool for searching, editing and creating maps viewable on Google Earth and Google Maps.’
Although it is dubbed as a tool for helping with disaster relief efforts, it is easy to imagine its implementation when dealing with large scale hostile conflicts.
Imagine a Google map with possible ambush sites, surrounding fire-fights, up to date environmental intelligence and enemy units.
With shrinking military budgets it is becoming much more likely that a soldiers iPhone will be the tool to provide this battlefield information.
A smart-phone costs around $200 and the military mobile network access programming costs around $1000 – a big saving on the $3000 – $18,000 for current devices.
One developer has already built an app for helping snipers. BulletFlight uses the iPhone accelerometer to judge angles, accesses weather information to calculate wind-speed and can let a sniper listen to his favourite tunes instead of getting bored in the field.
Mental health is an area where smart-phones are playing a role. ‘Telehealth Mood Tracker’ is an app designed to record a soldiers mental health in real time.
Turning a soldiers iPhone into a field psychiatrist, troops would complete a combination of activities from describing their mood in colours to choosing key words to describe their feelings.
This info would be fed back to the command centre leading to early discovery of potential problems. Meaning that command can dispatch Domino’s pizza when a soldier begins to show early signs of mental trauma.
Although no finalised details of any roll out of militarised smart-phones across the US army has been announced, it is likely that the time will come soon.
And any contract will prove ludicrous for whichever phone manufacturer secures the deal. I’m sure it will be a furious fight between Google and Apple.
I would place my bets on Apple. Simply because of the success of Apple branding and marketing, iPhones are cooler and more desirable than any other handsets. So the promise of having your own miltary grade iPhone when you join up will be a major boom to recruitment drives.