Aside from a rifle, an iPod Touch or iPhone might eventually be one of the most important tools a U.S. soldier carries. If you doubt that a consumer product could really be that vital in war zones, keep in mind that iPods aren't just music players -- they're miniature computers with an established history of adaptability and durability.
Military uses for iPods are virtually endless. iPods have a large range of potential functions, and authorities and software developers can team up to develop new applications (or apps, in Apple-speak) for just about any sort of task. Plus, because most soldiers have already used an iPod Touch, training sessions and their associated costs are minimal.
In fact, the Army has been using iPods for years. One program, called Vcommunicator Mobile, displays phrases and words appropriate for a variety of situations a soldier might encounter. It displays text on an iPod's screen and pumps audio through a portable speaker to help the soldier communicate in languages such as Kurdish and Arabic. The app even displays animations of gestures appropriate for certain phrases [source: Lowe].
Snipers like a ballistics calculator called BulletFlight. They simply enter range and atmospheric details, and the software generates vital details for an accurate shot. An upgraded version even shows impact energy, flight time and other valuable information [source: Sutherland].
Other apps will enable teleconferencing, or may even turn an iPod into a remote control for bomb disposal robots. Further developments will let soldiers take a photo of a landmark and subsequently receive intelligence about their surroundings, including everything from local power availability to images of suspected insurgents.
That's really just boot camp for the iPod's military career. With more research and better software, these humble music players will help soldiers complete dozens of other tasks and, in the process, save lives on the battlefield, too.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- Cass, Stephen. "Pixels By The Yard: HP Prints Flexible Screens Like Newsprint." Discover. May 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://discovermagazine.com/2009/may/13-pixels-by-yard-hp-prints-flexible-screens-like-newsprint
- Cooper, Arnie. "A Lightweight Display Brings Instant Army Intelligence To Your Wrist." Popular Science. June 16, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.popsci.com/gear-amp-gadgets/article/2009-06/ultimate-wristwatch
- Cox, Matthew. "SF Units To Get Latest Land Warrior Kit." ArmyTimes.com. Nov. 10, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/11/army_landwarrior_110909w/
- Dillow, Clay. "Army Seeks Helmet Mounted Radar Giving Soldiers 360-Degree Awareness." Popular Science. Oct. 27, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2009-10/army-seeks-helmet-mounted-radar-giving-soldiers-360-degree-awareness
- Fallon, Sean. "Army Helmet-Mounted Radar Will Give Soldiers Eyes In the Back Of Their Heads." Gizmodo. Oct. 27, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://gizmodo.com/5391114/army-helmet+mounted-radar-will-give-soldiers-eyes-in-the-back-of-their-heads
- Hambling, David. "Army Develops Helmet Mounted Radar To Watch Soldiers' Backs." Wired.com. Oct. 27, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10/army-develops-helmet-mounted-radar-to-watch-soldiers-backs/
- Koman, Richard. "Killer Apps: Army Embraces iPod Touch." ZDNet Government. April 19, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009http://government.zdnet.com/?p=4637
- Lowe, Christian. "iPod Translator Is Music To My Ears." DefenseTech. Oct. 27, 2007. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://defensetech.org/2007/10/07/ipod-translator-is-music-to-my-ears/
- Matthews, William. "Fueled For Growth." DefenseNews. Oct. 5, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4307552
- Military & Aerospace Electronics. "Portable Fuel Battery Power For Infantry Soldiers Is Goal Of Army Contract To DuPont." July 31, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://mae.pennnet.com/display_article/367211/32/ARCHI/none/EXECW/1/Portable-fuel-cell-battery-power-for-infantry-soldiers-is-goal-of-Army-contract-to-DuPont/
- Shachtman, Noah. "The Army's New Land Warrior Gear: Why Soldiers Don't Like It." Popular Mechanics. May 2007. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4215715.html
- Shachtman, Noah. "High-Tech Soldier Suit, Crawling Back From The Dead." Wired.com. March 27, 2008. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/03/land-warrior-ba/
- Sutherland, Benjamin. "Apple's New Weapon." Newsweek. April 18, 2009. (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.newsweek.com/id/194623
- U.S. Army Research Laboratory. "ARL Helps DoD Highlight Advances In Wearable Power." (Nov. 10, 2009)http://www.arl.army.mil/www/default.cfm?Action=49&Page=427
Does torture even work? Stuff They Don't Want You To Know looks at the past, present and future of torture and why civilized societies still use it.