Android goes to war

August 9, 2010: 10:01 AM ET

The latest combat gear now bears a striking resemblance to Android Smartphones.

Don't look for this Itronix GD300 (PDF) at your local Best Buy Mobile outlet. Although it may look like a Nexus One with some extra plastic, it is the latest in War-fightin' gear available from General Dynamics (GD) C4 Systems. ('C4' !) which runs the Android OS.

The 8-ounce device is meant to be worn on the arm or chest of the combatant and can tie into military radios and run military apps (assuming we aren't talking about Left for Dead here) with a click in cable interface.

On the hardware side, it holds a 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 256MB of memory, 8GB flash storage and a 3.5-inch, 800 x 480 pixel sunlight-readable, glove-friendly  touchscreen display.  I'd take a Samsung Galaxy S personally.

But what the Galaxy S lacks in GPS (and boy does it lack GPS), this thing has in spades.  It is outfitted with a SiRFstarIII GPS chip and quad-helix antenna.

"The GD300 is a game-changing computer that will save lives," said Mike DiBiase, vice president of Computing Technologies for General Dynamics C4 Systems. "We expect the GD300 will become the most important 8 ounces of tactical communications and situational awareness equipment that a warfighter can carry."

This isn't the first military use of Android.  Just last week, Nexus Ones were caught acting as translators for military personel in Afganistan.

The question is: Will Google (GOOG) be able to monetize the ads that appear on searches on this thing's Web Browser?

More imagery and PR below:

The GD300 hosts the open architecture, Android™-based operating system to easily accommodate current and emerging applications for warfighters at all command levels. Operating in two distinct modes, the GD300 serves as a stand-alone GPS device or, when connected to a tactical radio, performs as a tactical mission computer. The GD300 supports commercially available standalone applications or military "apps" like the Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR) System which is currently in use by the military.

When connected to a tactical radio, the lightweight GD300 enables warfighters to securely communicate, share information and collaborate while on the move. Delivering up to eight hours of continuous operation, the lightweight GD300 is powered by standard lithium-ion batteries.
Reginald Daniels, an engineer for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory responsible for testing military wearable computers, said, "Given that the dismounted warfighter's job is not a computer operator, it is imperative that wearable computers be unobtrusive, intuitive to operate and provide compute-on-the-go functions."

The GD300's sleek ergonomic design was the result of input and feedback from wearable-computer users from the military, government and emergency first responders. The GD300 includes a sunlight readable display and functional control buttons typically found on any Android-based device. The 3.5-inch touch-screen display lets warfighters move information around, zoom in or out or place digital 'markers' on tactical maps with the touch of a gloved finger. Comfortably fitting in an adult's hand, the computer fully meets MIL-STD 810G specifications for ruggedness.

General Dynamics Itronix is a leading developer of wireless, rugged computing solutions for mobile workers, offering a full range of field computing systems including laptops, ultra mobile notebook PCs and tablet PCs. The company is part of General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD).

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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