Army tests out consumer-grade smartphones for combat

The Wall Street Journal reports that starting Monday, the Army start testing on the battlefield the same iPhones and Android phones you buy off the shelf.

From the Journal:

The Army will also stress-test a variety of applications that could allow troops to tap digital information from the front lines--for instance, streaming video from a surveillance camera, or downloading up-to-the minute information from a remote database.

If the tests go well, it could be a boon for the Army - military technology goes through so much red tape - it takes incredibly long to get something to go from a plan to action. Smartphones and apps have allowed the military to bypass a lot of that bureaucracy and get new tech into the hands of soldiers relatively quickly.

Again from the Journal:

In the coming exercise, the service will evaluate several apps that help speed requests for medical evacuation by relaying the exact location of an injured soldier, with touch-screen menus to fill in crucial information such as the patient's name, health status and type of injury. Another app, called "SoldierEyes," turns a smartphone into a sort of battlefield navigation device. In addition to displaying a digital map, it features an "augmented reality" mode that enables the user to flip on the camera and scan the horizon. Digital markers pop up on the screen, displaying the direction and distance to objectives on the battlefield.

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John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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