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US Army Developing Android Apps for Smartphone Use in Battle

| 22 Apr 2011 15:18
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After seeing the effectiveness of smartphone use by insurgents and the Taliban, the US Army is developing a suite of applications based on Android for use in tactical situation.

Remember all the stuff that Jack Bauer from 24 could do with his "PDA" or all the times you have had to snap photos of things in videogames to send back to HQ? Well now, that will become a reality. The American Army is currently developing a software suite called the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld. JBC-P uses Google's Android operating system to run on phones that the Army would provide to soldiers in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq. Example applications for use in real battle include marking enemy locations on a GPS map for other soldiers to see, and sending pictures of wounds to medical staff for first aid instructions or possible treatment preparation. The inspiration to move forward with this program - which the Army hopes to roll out in 2013 - was witnessing enemy combatants using their own smartphones to cause American casualties.

"One of the most significant feedbacks you get from soldiers in theater is they look at their Afghan army compatriots or the Taliban guy, who has a cell phone," said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane. "We want to deny that capability to our own soldiers even through the enemy is using them?"

Crowdsourcing is not something that the US. Military is known for, but even that is changing. The Army plans on deploying a development kit for third party software designers to create applications that the military hasn't yet considered. "Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we're going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren't stovepiped," said Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, referring to the way intelligence information is funneled up the chain of command.

The US Army already uses sophisticated communication and tactical computer systems effectively in battle, but carrying a device as versatile as a modern smartphone would replace a lot of proprietary technology. I'm impressed that the guys in the Pentagon would consider ditching custom-made computers and just let the soldier use what the commercial market has deemed the most effective way to collect and share intelligence information - the smartphone.

I'm just glad they are using the Android OS. I don't think I could bear my country being defended by soldiers holding iPhones with white earbuds coming out of them.

Source: IB Times

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