Several companies are heeding the call to create apps for niche markets in the military, and with more government agencies allowing funds to go toward the creation and adoption of the apps; it’s only a matter of time before all of our soldiers are connected. There are, however, some skeptics who think the last thing soldier Sneed is the distraction of an app or app Ecosystem. While it’s unlikely that battles will be won or lost on a handheld device, I often look at the most popular Consumer apps available today and wonder how many of them could easily translate to the needs of our military.
►Secure Communications: Ensuring that the military has a secure, encrypted and controlled app environment is important with smart phones that use VoIP, which are arguably as secure as most field two-way radios. Companies like Black phone take that one step further with encrypted voice and messaging, as does the new partnership between Boeing and BlackBerry called the Boeing Black, which promises to be tamper-proof and offers the user a full data wipe and software lockdown, or a self-destruct protocol.
►Virtual and Augmented Reality: While this has several uses for the average gamer, and those walking around urban settings to find out more about their location, the applications of augmented reality by the military are endless, including receiving real-time intelligence on location and giving tips on how to handle new, stress-inducing situations.
►Wearable’s/Fitness and health. Augmented reality is only as good as the wearable’s that deliver it, so customized versions of Google Glass, smart watches and connected clothing will become mainstream in military circles in the next few years. Emphasis should be given to those that can offer intelligence and evidence gathering through video to assess new situations and terrain. We will likely see the same of fitness trackers and their apps, which were popular with consumers in 2014.
►Mapping. GPS was deliberately inaccurate when it was first created, and only used in an accurate mode by the military (for whom GPS was developed).These days everyone gets accurate GPS on their mobile phones, which also gives the military access to precise and easy to use mapping services from a range of third party app providers. In-building mapping is also proving useful and advancing fast, something essential to the military.