Web/Tech

BiometricsMarines and soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have received a new biometrics tool to help distinguish potential Taliban fighters.

The device is a SEEK II — Securte Electronic Enrollment Kit and Multimodal Identification Platform — built by Cross Match Technologies. The device is probably best known for helping Navy SEALs identify Osama Bin Laden on the raid in which the former head of Al Qaeda was killed.

Marines have received 334 SEEK IIs over the past year, according to Corps officials. The devices have been sent to the I, II, and III Marine Expeditionary Forces, as well as the Command and Control Training and Education Center of Excellence on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. [click to continue…]

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Working DogThe dogs working with special operations and EOD teams have certainly proven their worth the past decade. So much so the military continues to invest in protecting and caring for these animals in combat.

Marine Corps Special Operations Command has put out an inquiry to buy an X-ray machine that Marines can take to the field and examine the dogs in case of an injury. [click to continue…]

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The majority of current DOD technology providers deliver “soulless”, “ruggedized” green boxes that when finally released to the Warfighter, four years post contract, house outdated technology at 10-100X the cost of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) items. Not exactly how I want my own tax dollars used. As a former Warfighter nothing is more frustrating then getting your hands on kit that is outdated and not engineered with end users in mind, the latter being a HUGE problem in my opinion.

From The New York Times

“DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO DELIGHT CUSTOMERS Six weeks before the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, Mr. Jobs ordered a crucial design change. Until then, the planning for supplies, manufacturing and engineering had been based on the assumption that the smartphone’s face would be plastic, recalls Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who led iPod and iPhone development from 2001 to 2009. Plastic is less fragile than glass, and easier to make.

But the plastic touch screen had a drawback. It was prone to developing scratches. Those scratches, Mr. Jobs insisted, would irritate users and be seen as a design flaw. “All the logical facts told us to go with plastic, and Steve’s instinct went the other way,” Mr. Fadell says. “It was Steve’s call — his gut.”

The glass choice was a challenge that seemed “nearly impossible” at the time, he says — a last-minute scramble to get supplies of specialized glass and tweak the design of the phone’s casing to reduce the chances the glass would crack when an iPhone was dropped. But with extra investment and a frenetic work regimen, the switch proved doable, despite the tight deadline.

The episode, Mr. Fadell says, points to a principle he took away from his years working with Mr. Jobs. “You do not cut corners and you make sure the customer gets an experience that is an absolute delight,” observes Mr. Fadell, who heads a Silicon Valley start-up company whose product has not yet been disclosed and will not compete with Apple.”

Essential Writing Kit: My MacBook Pro

Anyone that manufactures technology for the Defense market could learn a lot from Jobs’s and Apple.  The DoD industry at large is prone to making decisions more focused on saving pennies then what’s ultimately good for the Warfighter.  If the industry were to follow Apple’s example I predict that they would win the hearts and minds of the Warfighter and this would ultimately deliver more contracts and much larger profits in the future.  After all, I’m a capitalist at heart but I do share the Jobs’s ethic of taking care of the customer first and foremost.  I still have hope that a DoD version of Jobs’s Apple emerges from the mist of mediocrity.  There are a few companies out there bucking the system and focusing on the Warfighter such as London Bridge Trading Company, SureFire, General Atomics (The Predator Drone was built in the face of a skeptical DoD), Divisions of L-3 (not all), Crye Precision and SOFCOAST. I know there are a few others out there but these cover a wide range and come to mind quickly.

I fought off the switch to Apple for years until one particularly sharp SEAL technophile buddy of mine, “Arty”, finally convinced me to buy my first Apple product, a Mac Pro.  Arty has since disappeared into OGA service but hopefully I will see him again one day to thank him for his diligence.  I couldn’t believe how damn useful and intuitive my first Apple computer was and after 6-months I’ve never looked back and have since been a loyal fan of all things Apple. The IT guys at our command used to actually joke and say if we switched to Apple products that they would be out of a job….somehow I believe them.

The lesson here for DoD contractors is an easy one.  “Do whatever it takes to put the Warfighter’s needs first”.

I’d have you on my fire team any day Steve, see you on the other side brother.

Brandon

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You all know how much I love my iPhone…I mean, I consider it the greatest invention since the wheel and if I could have it implanted in my skull, I would. I call it my “Brain Pal.”

Well, one thing I hadn’t really considered is the way in which the little life keeper could be exploited as an intelligence source — both for ill or good.

A Kit Up! tipster forwarded an interesting piece on how police officers are being trained to pull information on perps from smartphones – particularly the iPhone.

Law-enforcement experts said iPhone technology records a wealth of information that can be tapped more easily than BlackBerry and Droid devices to help police learn where you’ve been, what you were doing there and whether you’ve got something to hide.

“Very, very few people have any idea how to actually remove data from their phone,” said Sam Brothers, a cell-phone forensic researcher with U.S. Customs and Border Protection who teaches law-enforcement agents how to retrieve information from iPhones in criminal cases.

“It may look like everything’s gone,” he said. “But for anybody who’s got a clue, retrieving that information is easy.”

There’s even a cottage industry for law enforcement to understand cracking Apple’s wonder device and a book on how to do it.

While the article focuses on how police and investigators can crack the phone for gouge on crooks, Kit Up! readers will probably be interested in flipping the concept on its head by considering how a bad guy might be able to find out a wealth of information about a military unit from the little bits of info contained on a trooper’s misplaced iPhone.

We wrote about how more and more troops in The Zone arejailbreaking their iPhones and using them on local networks — and with the explosion of apps that can be used for military ops, the iPhone will surely become a much more ubiquitous device on the battlefield. So it’s important to consider security of your iPhone while deployed.

One thing you can do to better secure your iPhone is to enable the password lock feature and couple it with a data erase modeafter some failed attempts at breaking in. While the passcode is only four digits long (which should be easy enough to crack for hardcore sleuths) it’s better than nothing.

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“Renound” British customized weapon designer Dalton/Stanley has released the world’s first ever hybrid assault riflewith internal adaptable barrel that extends the weapon’s reach into sniper range.

A specialized day/night optic integrates IR illumination, laser designator and visible light beam is mounted on top Picatinny rails.

the built-in computer measures air particles passing through three invisible beams projected from the front of the weapon. The computer uses this information to calculate wind direction and velocity, resulting in it being able to provide the user with a more accurate alternative target for the shot, presented on the scope’s viewfinder.

The so-called A/SRH C-1 has a built-in bipod, extendable butt stock and 30-shot 5.56 magazine.

According to the manufacturers, the quick-change sniper barrel extension simply twists into place…

There are 2 barrels; one standard and one that is housed directly underneath it. The 2nd barrel is redundant until sniper-mode in enabled. The standard barrel extends forwards and locks, and then the 2nd barrel slides up into it’s place via an internal mechanism. A rotation of the second barrel screws the two barrels together firmly, creating the solid extended sniper barrel you see here. The join/seam is too small to affect the passage of projectiles (the seam is ~20μm).

Real? Fake? Computer animation or a no joke boom stick. I’ll let Kit Up! readers be the judge of that. Whether fantasy or reality, the A/SRH C-1 is a pretty sweet looking gun…

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I really don’t consider myself much of a “gamer” — I’m too ADD to concentrate for very long on one thing before  getting bored or frustrated and moving on. But occasionally, I run across something that just grabs my attention and quickly becomes an obsession.

As you all know well by now, I am addicted to my iPhone and am always surprised at the power of the little device to do almost anything (except change diapers, cook dinner or mow the lawn). I have a few games on there but I recently found one that has become an obsession — my last one being Trinity Games’ AC-130 Spectre.

ngmoco’s Eliminate: Gun Range is an easy game to dive in and out of when you have a spare ten minutes or want to clear your head. The cool thing about it is that it takes advantage of the iPhone 4′s gyroscope, creating an incredibly realistic movement during aim and shoot. After playing it a while, you actually start to swing your head and move your body involuntarily to get eyes on.

The game has 12 levels for each unlockable weapon (purchased by earned credits based on range performance), which includes straight up indoor scenarios and outdoor urban ranges. The game includes the M-60, PKM, M-4, AK-47, MP-7, Famas, Steyr and the SCAR Mk-16 (and more). Each weapon has particular characteristics that make it more or less accurate, fire in different modes (burst, single shot, full auto) and reload slow or fast.

Some improvements I hope will come down the pike are the addition of pistols to the armory and the ability to reload at will rather than wait for an auto reload when the mag is empty. Other than that, I don’t think it would be worth fooling with the elegant simplicity.

There will always be someone who says “it’s not realistic enough” or “it’s too easy” or “the graphics suck” — but from this sometimes gamer’s perspective, I’m pretty confident Kit Up! readers will get a kick out of the app. And it’s free, so what the heck…

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I'd never been exposed to the use of shot timer until that slave driver of a shooting instructor Brandon Wright of ITI subjected Ward and me to the ignominity of the damned device last week.

I was trolling around the forums today and ran across a mention of a new iPhone application that is designed to work as a shot timer and hone your speed.

SISiPhoneApps developed the shot timer with what looks to me like a range of customization and reporting bells and whistles so that you can keep track of your times and calibrate the device for refined acoustics. The SIS timer builds on SureFire's similar app released about a year ago.

This is the second app I've seen for hard core tactical use, the first being Knights Armament's Bullet Flight ballistics app.

Look, I'm an iPhone convert and believe that the darn thing has pretty close to changed the world as I know it. It's pretty cool to see the gizmo being used for more real-world military applications and I hope the development keeps going.

We'd love to hear about any others our readers have seen out in the field, and also if anyone has some first-hand experience with tactical apps, let's get the lowdown.

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