Infantry to lead the way with a new PDA

Military research and industrial design bring power-saving PDA to troops in the field.

Mark Rutherford
The military establishment's ever increasing reliance on technology and whiz-bang gadgetry impacts us as consumers, investors, taxpayers and ultimately as the defended. Our mission here is to bring some of these products and concepts to your attention based on carefully selected criteria such as importance to national security, originality, collateral damage to the treasury and adaptability to yard maintenance-but not necessarily in that order. E-mail him at markr@milapp.com. Disclosure.
Mark Rutherford

A collaboration between military R&D and industrial designers is bringing state-of-the-art PDA technology to Joe Snuffy out on the battlefield.

The Soldier Flex PDA (SFPDA) introduced by Inhand Electronics features flexible display technology with input from industrial design firm Artisent, display technology firm E-Ink and the U.S. Army Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University.

Inhand Electronics

The PDA offers InHand's PXA270-based Fingertip4 CPU board, along with Ethernet, USB, Bluetooth and keypad interfaces all in a "ruggedized" glass-free package that weighs less than a pound. Best of all, the unique low-power characteristics of electronic paper displays and InHand's patented BatterySmart system keep power consumption at well below a single watt. Battery life runs about six hours, according to the Maryland company.

The device opens up the realm of possibilities for distributing critical battlefield-networked information to infantry combat soldiers on long duration missions, explains Henry Girolamo, SFPDA program manager at the Army's Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center.

That, and having a PDA around should make pulling guard duty a lot more entertaining.