Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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The Army's smart turn to battlefield apps

Smart phone technology is taking over the rest of the world it seems, so why should the U.S. military be immune? The Army, at least, seems to be willing to see how far it can go, even on the front lines.

Ars Technica reported on a recent visit that the Army’s top propeller heads made to Apple to check out how the technology behind the company’s hugely popular mobile products could be used in tactical situations, apparently part of a larger push by the Army in that direction.

Makes a lot of sense, from various angles. Major General Nick Justice, who leads the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command, said the service is moving away from “big-green-box solutions” and is looking to leverage the kind of billion dollar investments that Apple and other companies have put into this kind of mobile tech.

Suffice to say, the Army’s brass have probably also been made aware of the fact that many of its young soldiers already make use of things like iPods out in the field, at least in terms of the apps that can be developed for particular situations.

That’s also a ready-made app development force, given the fact that many of those soldiers were already probably developing and coding for the iPhone and other devices before they enlisted. Or, at least, they have a natural app-titude (get it?) for doing that.

The Army is trying to tap that talent through a recently announced “Apps for the Army” competition aimed at creating smart phone and Web applications that will “enhance warfighting effectiveness”.

This is a step beyond current mobile research and development efforts. The Army already has it’s Go Mobile program that allows its soldiers to use smart phones to access Army Knowledge Online, through which they can e-mail, conference with other soldiers, download information they need, and more.

This is all a way for the Army to deploy leading edge technology without having to go to the expense of building it all itself. They also get to tap into that knowledgeable and enthusiastic development force. Plus, they get all of that out there and into the hands of its soldiers much, much faster.

The Army finally goes mobile! 

Posted by Brian Robinson on Mar 29, 2010 at 9:03 AM


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