Raytheon Weaponizing Android? Not Quite


According to a recent Information Week article entitled Army Testing Patriot Missile Android App, author Eric Zeman hints at potential military uses for our beloved Android OS.

But before you go jumping ship to some other mobile platform that eschews peace, love, and ground-unicorn bones inside every handset, let’s look at what Defense contractor Raytheon is actually thinking Android might be able to help with.

The article states “Communication on the battlefield is key. More and more, U.S. armed services are looking at consumer technology to help them to just that.” No argument there, but let’s see what they could do.

Google Maps, Battlefield Edition

Think about Google Earth which already runs on your phone. That app is beyond amazing, but the data is sometimes years old. On the battlefield you need up-to-the-minute imagery — years, or even days old isn’t going to cut it.

Take the imagery that’s gathered from spy satellites and drones flying overhead (including visible and IR pictures), and combine that with Google Earth style rotation, zooming, panning, and tilting, and all of a sudden you’ve got an awesome tool!

FourSquare, Barracks Edition

It’s fun being the “Mayor” of your favorite burger joint, but how about having a portable information device (a battlefield Android) which would let you know who officers are, and where to find them — and would let officers know where their troops are. Then again, if the security on this were broken… yeah.

Layar, Warzone Edition

Imagine if troops-on-the-ground could “tag” combatants. Their position could be triangulated by two or more troops tagging the person, or with “eye-in-the-sky” overlay technology, allowing the positions of individual combatants to be tracked in near-real-time. Add troop GPS positioning to this and friendly-fire could be a thing of the past.

According to the article “Raytheon is working with devices from Motorola and HTC, though it didn’t specify which. The devices will use Raytheon-developed encryption software and the essential communication tools so the software works when there aren’t cellular networks in range. The devices would also have identity recognition software and could only be unlocked for use by specific armed forces personnel. … The U.S. Special Forces have field-tested some of Raytheon’s software, and the U.S. Army is considering how best to use it.”

What other battle-field uses can you see Android being used to empower?

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.