So the U.S. Army has already headed down the smartphone & tablet path with their Android based Mobile /Handheld Computing Environment, or CE. The U.S. Navy meanwhile has been dabbling in Apple’s iOS realm. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the Platform as a Service (PaaS) as a possible model for realizing increased effectiveness and efficiencies. But if we want to truly maximize the capabilities of these devices abroad and especially while in the combat zone there is a significant need for a network.
In steps DeLorme with inReach. A device that rides the Iriduim network to provide basic data service. The inReach is able to provide via a standalone mode or combine with an Android phone or Earthmate PN-60w GPS to:
- Send, receive text messages from beyond cell phone range
- Get message delivery confirmation
- Enable remote tracking
- Send 2-way interactive SOS
No big deal right? Well at the price point of $249 and a low monthly plan of less than $10 you’ve got quite a economical reach-back capability. For a little bit more per month you can get that remote tracking (less than $25). Now I’ve used the traditional Iridium phones and service and seen their price tags get quite ridiculous. Think about this as a fall back solution vice the full blown Iridium handset. Implement these in a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) and you’ve got the immediate network with built in tracking which can automatically relay current positions to aircraft in real-time to provide water and supplies faster for the vital relief. You could also simply grab and go when you set out for a hike. Imagine the lives saved domestically if they’d only had this on them when mother nature took a swing at them.
It really doesn’t get much better than this for an economical long term solution to ensure information transport in an otherwise non-network environment. And for you iOS types rumor has it that it is coming sometime soon!
DeLorme inReach [Amazon]