updated 03:50 pm EDT, Sun September 11, 2011
Scout Observer Toolkit mates iPhone with satellite
Coolfire Solutions has rolled out a unique military kit that could give soldiers field intelligence using the iPhone 4 as its core. The Scout Observer ties Apple's phone to a satellite frequency observer that can both find the phone's position over GPS as well as find raw wireless signals nearby, including satellites. Although much larger than the iPhone, the rugged box at six pounds is nearly 27 times lighter than the US military's SATCOM box, making it easy to bring to the front line.
The iPhone during use stays in a sealed-up compartment. Although unstated, it's presumed an internal battery pack keeps the signal finder powered without having to rely on the smartphone for power.
The accessory is already available for pre-orders and should be available to the primarily government-focused customers in the fall. Coolfire hasn't said what other platforms might get support, but it promises more beyond the iPhone and is most likely to support Android next.
Smartphone use in the military has been increasing and culminated in the conclusion of a recent trial that could see infantry carry them on the field. Most of the work so far has been internal, though, and not through private sector contractors. [via Engadget]