The US Army is gonna have smartphones.

image of an army radio unit

It's not paper cups and string, but it's definitely not cutting-edge.

If there’s one thing we’ve known, it’s that government tech tends to lag behind a little. It’s not because they don’t want to or can’t afford to be cutting-edge, but because governments need reliability over new stuff. Which is why the M16 has been the standard-issue weapon since the ’60s. And why the radios vaguely resemble suitcases with corded phones coming out of them.

Well, they’ve recently changed their minds and after testing smartphones in some camps in the US, are going to do a limited deployment in Iraq as early as this year.

Because it’s the army, they’ll probably be using their own OS and apps. And they’re not intended to replace the radios, but to supplement them. They’re going to send geotagged images and text in reports.

Try not to think about the US Army version of ‘texting in class.’

Even the army is getting in to smartphones. They’re just too useful in too many ways. Just a few years ago, the kind of functionality you get in a modern smartphone was not only a lot bigger and a lot slower, but a ton more expensive. GPS got big in the late ’90s, but now it’s standard. In things that aren’t even GPS.

Here’s the point: even if you decide to join the army you’re not going to escape technology, and the computer science that comes with it. Arguably better to go to a university to get your engineering kung-fu, but if it’s what suits you, one might consider the pay raise you’d get if you could design the next useful app for the army. Probably a pretty hefty sum.

It might also make a good field of research at someplace like UO, OSU, PSU, OIT or any of the other nice universities in Oregon.

It’s been around in videogames for a long time–one player on a shooting game can usually tell his or her teammates where the enemies are. So it might also make an interesting feature to add to Call of Duty 10, when you’re programming it. Text your teammates the coordinates!

Read what I read:


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