US Army to begin testing 85 smartphone apps

By Brian Dolan
09:31 am
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T2 Mood Tracker

T2 Mood Tracker App

The U.S. Army will begin testing iPhones, Android smartphones, and tablets for use in war starting next week, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last December we reported on the military's plans to test EMR applications on Apple and Android devices for use in the field, but this week's announcement includes a handful of other specific applications.

The tests, which include using the technology for surveillance, biometrics, mobile drone piloting and real-time updating of battlefield data, will take place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and in Fort Bliss, Texas. The six-week testing period is part of a wider $4.2 million dollar evaluation of smartphone technology and applications for military use. Apps on the devices could be used to more efficiently help wounded soldiers, with medics inputting soldier information and GPS location through the app. There are also apps that replace bulky instruction manuals for military equipment. In total, eighty-five applications are currently in development by the Army, both being created in-house or through outside developers.

The army is rigorous about evaluating devices that would add more weight to a soldier’s already-extensive load. Michael McCarthy, an Army project leader, was quoted saying that "we want to give people the right phones for the right reasons, not just give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers.”

The Army also wishes to see whether the consumer technology can support their heavy network bandwidth, and whether it is already durable enough for battlefield conditions. The military doesn’t want to "spend $2,500 to ruggedize a $200 phone," McCarthy said in the article.

Last fall the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that one of its agencies, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) had created a smartphone application, called the T2 Mood Tracker, to help members of the military who have been to deployed track their mood and stress levels. The Army has also made mobile health services available to some soldiers who have returned home: Last November the US Army inked a five-year deal with Diversinet to leverage its MobiSecure Health platform for “wounded warriors.” Wounded warriors without smartphones or a data plan can still use the services through a secure SMS version of the program also powered by Diversinet.

Read more about the Army's most recent announcement over at DoD Buzz

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