The U.S. Army is ready to put the power of the mobile device into the hands of it’s soldiers and in a nod to open architecture, they have chosen to develop a prototype device that runs on the Android operating system. Before being deployed to the field, the Joint Battle Command-Platform Handset (JBC-P) handsets must pass through a series of 4 test events scheduled to finish up in late 2012. Rest assured when the testing concludes, the Army will have better hardware choices and a faster, more efficient version of Android (Lollipop?)
Currently, JBC-P apps are focused on maintaining real-time situational awareness. They enable soldiers to track fellow soldiers (also known as a blue force tracker), the enemy, and anything else they can notate from their device (roadside bomb, obstacles, friendly villages, uncharted streets, etc). An invaluable capability that has the potential for saving lives.
What sort of apps will the JBC-P handsets (and future handsets) be running? That’s up to developers. The Army plans to release a mobile handheld development kit sometime in July 2011. Because of security concerns, our guess is that the development kit will only be released to cleared defense contractors, but that remains to be seen.
What sort of apps do you envision the Army running? What benefits might Android ‘civilians’ see now that Android has made its way into the Defense realm? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.