Military tech versus street tech
Interesting discussion on PopSci: Military Tech Versus Street Tech: Who’s Got the Edge? by James Vlahos. I picked up what I found relevant:
The question naturally occurs: Who gets the better stuff, soldiers or civilians? The military’s gear is often tougher (witness their laptops and cars), more precise and sometimes just plain better, because extreme situations require extreme gear. (...) The military has traditionally tried to develop, own, and control its own technology. But the thinking is shifting, and procurement officers now get pats on the back when they fulfill a military need with a consumer product. The new approach has forged strange alliances, such as the Army’s partnership with the video game industry (...) It would be shortsighted, of course, to discuss what’s happening with military tech without discussing what’s happening with the military.(...) New conflicts—smaller, urban, unconventional—will require new tools and tactics. “Soldier-centric warfare” and “situational awareness” are the buzz phrases, because tanks and bombs have limits when you’re fighting among civilians. This combat paradigm places an increased emphasis on the very sort of high-tech tools civilians use. You depend on your PDA to remind you of a lunch meeting. Soldiers, linked by wireless networks, may soon be using theirs to make the right decisions about when to shoot—and when to hold fire.
Then the author describes concrete examples of such an agenda. Apart from humvee's and the Dragon fire I described earlier, there are interesting ideas about how militaries took advantage of reshuffling existing "non-MacGyver"civilians devices:
- outdoor gear
- tactical communication with augmented ipaqs: rugged, waterproof, networked
- waterproof laptops
Why do I blog this? another relevant column about artifacts transfered from one context to another.