IPhone Lightens Military Load

A new dock uses the iPhone 4 to create a satellite communications terminal for the battlefield, as mobile devices continue to play a role in military equipment.

The Scout Observer from Coolfire Solutions, with the help of Apple’s smartphone, can help users locate and verify satellite signals, measure their strength, and determine GPS location, according to Engadget. The device will be available to the public for pre-orders with an expected ship date sometime in the fourth quarter.

Coolfire’s new dock weighs six pounds and can replace the standard 160-pound SATCOM terminal, making it a lot lighter and easier to transport on military missions.

The Scout Observer is not the first example of mobile technology aiding the armed forces. The U.S. Army is encouraging developers to create smartphone apps for military and national security use. Consequently, soldiers now use some of the same features that allow civilians to check in with groups of friends to communicate between combat units or locate pivotal targets.

The U.S. Army also developed software to let soldiers control cameras on military-grade unmanned aerial vehicles using iPads. The system is designed so personnel can watch a live feed from the tablet and control camera actions through its touch screen display.

The Scout Observer’s potential use in the field will help further the argument that the U.S. army should carry smartphones into battle. The Army recently completed a successful field test in which soldiers used smartphones to text field reports, get map data and send geotagged photos as intelligence.

The development of new software and hardware for smartphones to aid soldiers strengthens the case of those who believe mobile devices are necessary military equipment. If mobile technology continues to develop at its current pace, smartphones may end up being soldiers’ most important weapons.

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