The military has been deploying Apple’s iPod Touch and iPhone, loaded with software that aids in translation, intelligence gathering and shooting people. Military iPods will “display aerial video from drones and have teleconferences with intelligence agents halfway across the globe.” We civilians are still waiting for copy and paste.
Since sharing data is particularly important in counterinsurgency operations, the Pentagon is funding technology that makes it easier for the soldier on the ground to acquire information and quickly add it to databases. Next Wave Systems in Indiana, is expected to release iPhone software that would enable a soldier to snap a picture of a street sign and, in a few moments, receive intelligence uploaded by other soldiers (the information would be linked by the words on the street sign). This could include information about local water quality or the name and photograph of a local insurgent sympathizer. The U.S. Marine Corps is funding an application for Apple devices that would allow soldiers to upload photographs of detained suspects, along with written reports, into a biometric database. The software could match faces, making it easier to track suspects after they’re released.
Apple gadgets are proving to be surprisingly versatile. Software developers and the U.S. Department of Defense are developing military software for iPods that enables soldiers to display aerial video from drones and have teleconferences with intelligence agents halfway across the globe. Snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan now use a “ballistics calculator” called BulletFlight, made by the Florida firm Knight’s Armament for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Army researchers are developing applications to turn an iPod into a remote control for a bomb-disposal robot (tilting the iPod steers the robot). In Sudan, American military observers are using iPods to learn the appropriate etiquette for interacting with tribal leaders.