Smartphones may not be just for civilians in the near future. The US Army now has them in their “sights”. They may turn out to be a money-saver in a time of a failing US dollar.
Instead of turning to expensive proprietary replacements for their job, the US Army is thinking about using gadgets that are prepared from outside sources. The Army apparently has eclectic tastes as they are looking at smartphones from varioius sources. Those powered by android, plus iPhones, and those powered by Windows Phone 7 are all under consideration. A six week experiment of over 300 different types of smartphones produced some positive results.
Some people in the US Army want every soldier to have a smartphone. Michael McCarthy is director of operations at the Brigade Modernization Command, Mission Command Complex, located at Fort Bliss, Texas. He states that his vision is for every soldier to be issued a phone. This will be great to get rid of the current MARS system of communicating from distances for a soldier’s family.
Of course, some problems peculiar to military life will need to be addressed. The US Army wants the smartphones to work on their own frequencies. This will provide for a custom network more easily secured by the Army. Security is of utmost concern, since enemy hackers are keen to learn what the US is doing in their electronic transmissions. To augment this idea, some new technologies are being considered. One is Monax, consisting of cellular base stations that can work with fixed antennas on the ground. It can also work with moving antennas, such as those on a vehicle or airplane. Oceus Networks is another idea the US Army is thinking about. They would be working in concert with Northrop Grumman. They provide video, data and voice communications in a high speed format. McCarthy has a goal of getting a signal to the smartphones within a 35 kilometer radius. That is 21.7 miles for those in the United States.
The smartphones are not the only thing the Army is looking at. They also have the iPad in their sights. Hewlett Packard is also getting into the game since they have a phone and a tablet available with the WebOS system. There may not be one manufacturer decided on. The McCarthy idea is not to be dependent on one brand.
What can a smartphone do for a soldier? The easy answer is, get rid of tons of paperwork, saving time. A medical evaluation form can be filled out in 1.5 minutes with a smartphone. The same form using the traditional paper format will take 15 minutes.