At a conference in Arizona on Wednesday, US defence company Raytheon announced its plans to launch a new range of military-oriented programs that can turn the popular touchscreen mobile phone into a tool for use in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first application in its plans, called One Force Tracker, uses satellite positioning and mobile networks to give soldiers constantly updating field maps that track the position of friendly troops and enemy fighters in real time.
I was tempted to heap scorn big time, but the story goes on to discuss other ways in which Raytheon has used off-the-shelf hardware for military applications.
I wonder whether an iPhone can survive the drop tests that military laptops have to survive (specification here–PDF).
There are some other considerations, though. I doubt the military will take kindly to Apple’s walled garden–they famously like to wall their own gardens. They won’t like it if Steve Jobs disallows an app they want.
There are other issues, though, in using over-the-air communications in military applications. The BBC reports that there are indications that Shia fighters (I’m using the same term as the BBC because I don’t want to get into a hassle over terminology) have successfully hacked into the video feeds for the Predator drones.
There is no indication they have hacked into the control feeds, according to the story.
The primary “other issue” is, in my opinion, over-confidence. Involving microchips doesn’t make stuff more secure, it just makes it faster, as any Windows user can attest. From a practical standpoint, there is nothing new about this; it is conceptually no different from intercepting smoke signals.