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Android joins the Army

US Army Combat TroopsFor years now, U.S. Army was trying to create a device that does what most smart phones routinely do today. The combat troops have been increasingly critical of army procurement officials. We have to understand them, in a combat situation, right information and communication is a matter of life or death.

Currently, the army sent troops to Afghanistan equipped with, what the Army calls, “Nett Warrior” gear. It is a 5 pound wearable computer with an eyepiece for the display and a handheld (or worn on the arm) keyboard and 24 hours battery lifetime. The eyepiece was supposed to display constantly updated position of friendly troops, and most recently reported location of the enemy. Besides weight problem, this system needed ten seconds to update everyone's position. Combat troops need to know where they are, and they need to know that quickly. 10 seconds is just too long since by the time positions are updated, situation probably looks totally different.

Although the army spent hundreds of millions, they have not yet created a wearable device that does job as well as a lot of current tablet PCs and cell phones do. So, the troops went public and said, we want a smart communication device, we want it now and it has to run Android! Of course, Army has to complicate everything so they say that they request a new Android gadget called NWEUD (Nett Warrior End-User Device).

Now, is Android equipped to be a solution? I think that the technology is ready.


We all know that GPS is running great on most handsets. All you need is military detailed maps and you will know where you are at all times.


Already, you can buy emergency solar chargers with 12,000MAh battery that will keep your 4.1” screen, Android phone running for more than 24 hours with GPS and WiFi constantly running. On a hot, sunny Afghan day, it can recharge the battery in 8-10 hours. Just perfect when you find yourself behind enemy lines with no power outlet in sight.


You can also buy video glasses for your android phone that will make you think that you have a 40” screen in front of you. That wearable display can certainly be make to use only one eyepiece and wham – you have a perfect combat display.


Some guys in Australia have created an Android application that uses WiFi mesh networking allowing phones to act as access points over radio waves to transmit voice calls as data.

Location, location, location

Only thing lacking is a custom application that will use WiFi mesh networking to constantly update everybody’s position, and I am sure that it will be relatively easy to write such App for Android and I am also sure that it will be able to update everybody’s positions in less than 10 seconds.


So, there it is. Without spending hundreds of millions, I think that I have envisioned a device that will work perfectly in combat conditions and still allow you to text your significant other when the cell network is available!

It was about time for Android to join the Army, see the world, take photos of some nice people and allow combat troops to kill them.

Android… Ten-hut!

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Written by PatriceWalker, 3 years ago
I wholeheartedly agree with you DrDarko. I'm sure there must be many, many cost-effective ways to take advantage of existing commercial technologies. I think that's an integral part of research and development, especially considering the mess the economy is in right now.

Perhaps the Army didn't specify the applications for security reasons, but it seems to be a bass ackwards way of going about it.
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Written by DrDarko, 3 years ago
Thank you very much for your comment.

The US Army actually issued ADK (Army Development Kit) for Android to selected developers. Unfortunately, the Army never specified what kind of applications they want. Currently, it's up to developers to figure out what exactly the combat troops might need in action.

You are right, security is a major concern. Any kind of civilian-grade WiFi and GPS can easily be jammed.

However, my main point isn't that the military research and development needs to be eliminated. I just think that there is a great opportunity to reduce overall costs by using open source and existing commercial technologies.
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Written by PatriceWalker, 3 years ago
Having worked for the Federal government for 12 years, I know from personal experience how long it often takes to get things done. This is a great idea that the Army would greatly benefit from and not have to spend thousands of tax payer dollars to implement since the technology already exists. But how secure would it be??

Great article, Dr. Darko. +1 and tweeted.

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