back to article Land Warrior wearable war-smartphone survives Iraq baptism

The world's first unit of digitally networked foot soldiers returns from combat in Iraq this week. Reports have it that the American troops' controversial "Land Warrior" wearable-node technology has changed in both role and configuration during its 15-month baptism of fire. Indications are that the equipment - slated for …


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  1. jai

    fishing for hits

    "Admittedly, the original Land Warrior didn't use a touchscreen, but a more cumbersome process where a chest controller moved a mouse across keys on the monocle display."

    so, in fact, it's completely nothing like the iPh*ne's keyboard at all

    and sounds impossible to use and no wonder they rejected it

    in fact, the only reason you've mentioned iPh*ne is to try and get hits registered on search engines isn't it?

  2. Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

    Fishing for hits?

    What is it you think we do for a living here?

  3. Karim Bourouba


    Yeah, of course the Register needs to do this - its not like every website on the internet doesnt already say iPhone on it all ready.

    Get a grip.

  4. Geoff Mackenzie

    Blackberry iPhone

    Vista Linux IBM. Apple, iPod Microsoft. Facebook Yahoo!

  5. Stuart Van Onselen

    So why...

    ...didn't the idiots try this in the first place? i.e. Extended real-world testing?

    Then they wouldn't have produced such a poor design that so nearly got axed? In the end, it was pure luck that saved this billion-dollar investment.

    But, it seems, no-one ever bothers to ask the troops what they need, more likely they *tell* the generals what they need, in exchange for a cushy, high-paying executive job for that general leaves the force.

  6. Risky
    Thumb Up


    There's on emore for the seach engine.

    Anyway the interesting thing here is that the gizmo only got to be usefull when they put it into action and started hacking around with it. Sort of like tactical rather than strategic development.

  7. Frank
    Thumb Up

    Why not use standard mobile phones?

    It's not my area of expertise but I'm wondering why they don't use an adapted form of standard mobile phone system. They could take an existing base station design then ruggedise it and ship a few out to the 'theatre', some with switched directional anntenae, boosted power etc. Then the troops could have commercially available, modern mobile phones with a military network SIM card and the phones locked to the military network.

    The phone could be placed in a cheap plastic bag, for dust/water protection, and still be operated while in the bag. It could link via bluetooth or WiFi to any larger local specialised hardware that provided specialised functions (photo-recon datadump, canteen menu listing, mission maps, etc on the brigade website). Then if it gets lost/damaged, the phone and SIM card can be disabled from the network and you just pick up a new one from stores.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Back on topic

    This is pretty cool. It's an evolution of the wearable PC idea, which was always plagued with interface problems. If it's simple enough for a soldier to use under fire it it's probably worth the money. Wearable PCs aren't the future, but they're a good stepping stone for getting a decent AR-augmented world going.

    Us civvies can also now nab the layout and use off-the-shelf or home-made tech and get the same effect for about 1/1,000,000,000th the cost!

    You've gotta ask how long the batteries will last on a Land Warrior though...

    Mine's the one with the pockets full of Dell Laptop batteries- they double up as power sources and grenades...

  9. Simon Painter
    Thumb Up

    @ Lewis

    You sell advertising space and survey data. Keep up the good work on that.

    Your only real incentive to keep us IT drones happy is that if you piss off your readership enough with your constant unneccessary mentions of the iphone then they may all scootch over to another site and you will have nobody to advertise to or survey.

    I know it's been a slow few months for IT news but the made up stuff or the questionable IT angle stuff is far more entertaining than showhorning iphone mentions into otherwise unrelated articles. Everyone knows the iphone is a useless gimmick for gullible tossers but every time you mention it you are giving it a modicum of hype that it does not deserve.

    More Playmobil and less Jesus phone please.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Facebook have an army?

    Who knew?

  11. Simon Painter
    Thumb Down

    @ Frank

    The standard cell kit is too dependant on the base stations so if you roam out of range you can't radio anyone even if they are line of sight from you.

    What they need is a full mesh solution where each node acts as a relay and any ones that can contact a signals officer (carrying bigger more powerful kit) can get the traffic relayed. Vehicules can carry larger kit which either relays or bounces it off of sat kit and some ruggedised drop ship kit can be left in areas where people are operating to provide additional uplink so you end up with a chain from the guys with the handheld right back to the brass who are in the rear with the gear.

    That's basically the idea they originally went for but as it was a big old can of government cheese that they were slurping on it went from good idea to shit implimentation quicker than you can say "we'll employ you as a consultant as soon as you retire from the service, general"

  12. Simon Painter

    @ Frank

    Oh yeah, instead of a plastic bag I have always found that an unlubricated and unflavoured condom makes a good waterproof phone cover (or any other gadget, even cameras provided you use the featherlight variety and keep it tight over the lens). It's even better if you use two.

  13. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    Well, for once it sounds... though the PBI are getting the kit that they want, in working order and in sufficient quantities. Late and expensive, perhaps, but better than not, and GD should get some credit for realising that they ****ed up and going and asking the people using it what they needed.

  14. Justin
    Thumb Up


    Never let common sense prevail where there is a lucrative government contract involved!

  15. Jerome


    jai: "in fact, the only reason you've mentioned iPh*ne is to try and get hits registered on search engines isn't it?"

    Lewis Page: "What is it you think we do for a living here?"

    Could you just confirm for me that what you're saying here is: "Yes, we will happily insert spurious comparisons into otherwise serious articles to boost our hit count, in order to increase our advertising revenue"?

  16. Dangermouse

    Keyword search

    iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Operational research

    Sounds like they actually did some... Why they couldn't do this with dogfaces and jarheads in training facilities at home and actually get some front line input to the needs from day 2, I don't know. I suppose it took the "we're taking your pork away" threat to focus the boffins' minds.

    Good job the insurgents won't have the tech to build an anti-radiation seeker head into an RPG.

  18. Bounty

    @ Frank

    now just take iPhone.... I mean regular smatphone and drop it in the cradle on the gun, then you get your gun mounted camera back... throw in a bluetooth headset and yer good. The only thing your average guy on wall street is missing, is the gun and the 3leet monocle.


    (now where did I leave my duct tape, cheap cell phone and Mosin-Nagant?)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    shooting round corners

    I still reckon being able to make aimed fire by holding the gun around a corner while remaining mainly in cover is a major feature...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "cut-down" version of LandWarrior?

    I always thought that the original LandWarrior program was a US Army "wishlist" for the 'next generation' of Combat Infantryman, complete with a lightweight combat environment suit (fabric 'armour' proof against small arms fire, chemical and biological warfare and limited nuclear effects as well), fully networked comms and data-sharing electronics with an integrated helmet display (on a sealed helmet), and a whizzo assault rifle/grenade launcher/ targeting system "gun" - if one man could see something, the electronics would let everyone else see it too (kinda like JTIDS is supposed to, and LINK-16 does do).

    It wasn't just about putting a fancy comms set and a camera on your average grunt and sending them out to the front lines, but as is typical with such ideas, someone (in this case GD) has taken bits of it and got them working (more or less) now, and then the media and politicians have 'hijacked' the name and it's stuck, and the original "program" has been edited to fit the new definition.

  21. The Other Steve

    F**k the haters

    Seriously, if a mention of the word iPhone is enough to cause your dummy ejection mechanism to engage, you need to get out more, or at least find something engaging to do with yourself to fill the long, dull, lonely hours between Natalie Portman nip-slip vid releases.

  22. Lyndon Barry

    Re:shooting round corners

    AC wrote:" I still reckon being able to make aimed fire by holding the gun around a corner while remaining mainly in cover is a major feature..."

    Not possible at this point. The M4 carbine is too heavy and cumbersome to point it around a corner and fire. There's a reason you hold the gun against your shoulder while firing.

    Now, a small camera linked into an eyepiece that you can poke around the corner to check what's there is the better idea.

    And kudos to GD for actually having the stones to lay everything on the table (literally) and ask the troops to redesign it how they want it. Far as I'm concerned, the guys on the ground need all the help they can get.

  23. Seán


    For the French.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shooting round corners

    Trouble is, it won't be very well-aimed "aimed" fire. You can't fire an M16 worth shit one handed. Grenades are for going round corners "blind". Having the ability to "look before you throw" is important though, so you know whether you can frag the opposition or if you have to risk a flash-bang entry to avoid "collateral murder".

  25. Dave

    scraped pork barrel

    leads to bottom-up design

    Some credit needs to go to GD for getting stuck in with the troops and listening to / working with the end user

    Wonder when UK DE&S (pork barrel admin central and useless at even doing that correctly) will get out of the way & let this sort of pragmatism to arise here??

    aaah well...

  26. Chris

    Wow - reality strikes!

    I'm amazed that this actually happened.

    In my experience, developers of impractical, poorly designed, overpriced, overweight junk generally ride the project down in flames.

    Things must be pretty bad in Iraq for GD, and the projects backers 'back home', to have accepted some 'on the ground' feedback AND actually modified the hardware on the fly.

    However, it does at least tend to make you think there is some hope when something like this happens. Shame Bowman (Better Off With a Map And a Nokia) didn't go the same way...

    (the one with a tow hitch for the generator on the belt)

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