Raytheon, a military contractor company, has announced its new iPhone application, the One Force Tracker. It will allow military personnel to securely communicate with each other, and track friends and foes on a real-time map. For example, it allows for crowd sourcing, which has volunteers using cellphones to report real-time traffic flow. The idea is to adapt the concept to turn each soldier into an individual reporting unit, delivering real-time data about position and status.
“We are really delighted to be leveraging Apple’s innovation” said J Smart, chief technology officer for Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems.
The GPS-enabled map feature could also be used for tracking or labeling specific areas such as known sniper sites or safe fallback positions.
“This is hypothetical, but if there is a building with known terrorist activities, it could automatically be pushed to the phone when the soldiers get near that area,” said Mr. Smart.
With the extra communication, errors and misjudgments could be greatly reduced. In case another platoon doesn’t arrive on time, or arrives early, soldiers would know that in real-time, instead of having to waste time confirming this with someone higher up; and on the battlefield, there is no time to waste.
Raytheon is also working on developing sensors that can be attached or even built into the military’s version of the iPhone that would serve other purposes. An example of this would be a portable ultrasound machine built into the iPhone which would be very useful for battlefield medicine.
If and when the military does start using the iPhone, there will be some modifications done to it to make it work at the highest level possible. The first thing that will be done is to turn off the “one-function” feature, allowing the iPhone to run multiple programs at once, such as having the GPS function running at all times, while other programs are being used. Also, since the iPhone doesn’t have a replaceable battery, the military might create a new, rugged phone case that would hold a bigger battery, and at the same time protect the phone from damage.
The adaptation of the iPhone to military use is somewhat unusual, since technology usually trickles down from the military to the consumer market. But this is a rare case of consumer hardware and software concepts being so useful and efficient that it is adapted for military use.
(Via NY Times)