The U.S. Army plans to continue testing smartphones and other mobile devices for use by soldiers in the field, but the latest round of tests are going to focus on the durability of the devices rather than solely on their operation.
Through June and into July, soldiers from Fort Bliss, Texas are going be testing off-the-shelf iPhones, Androids and tablet computers as part of an exercise, said Army Command Sgt. Major Antonio Dunston. All the soldiers of the Second Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, will have a smartphone to test how the devices hold up in rugged desert conditions, said Dunston, who is the brigade’s top enlisted soldier.
The Army is considering making smartphones standard issue for soldiers, and it is looking at devices produced by Apple, such as the iPhone and iPad, and those centered on Google’s Android operating system. If adopted by the Army, the smartphones would have software and apps specifically produced for individual units or missions. Among the apps to be tested is an app to expedite the treatment of soldiers wounded in combat.
In addition, an app called “SoldierEyes” has the device display a digital map, and includes an “augmented reality” feature that enables the user to activate the camera, and scan the horizon. The screen then displays digital markers that indicate the direction and distance to objectives on the battlefield.
The test involving the Fort Bliss soldiers is the latest round of tests of mobile devices conducted by the Army. In late 2010, soldiers of the Army Evaluation Task Force tested the usefulness and functionality of smartphones at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and in Feb. 2011, troop from Fort Bragg, N.C. tested smartphones.