They’ve Arrived: Tablets for the Army

Over a six-week period this past summer, the United States Army tested the viability of using touchscreen phones and tablets in the field.  The trial was such a success that Army officials anticipate that soldiers overseas could potentially receive the first wave of smartphones later this year.

In the meantime, the Army is already seeing tremendous value in using tablet computers for training, administrative purposes, situational awareness in the tactical environment and location tracking, among many other uses. In fact, Michael McCarthy, operations director of the Army’s Brigade Modernization Command’s Mission Command Complex, has said that he has seen a 10% increase in average scores and a 14% increase in grade point averages by students who use tablets in Army classrooms. In these controlled environments, consumer-grade tablets have performed well.

But, as conditions become more demanding, not just any tablet will do. The requirements of controlled classroom environments or event briefing centers are a stark contrast to harsh battlefield conditions.  To sustain the abuse that soldiers in the field endure, such as sandstorms, windstorms, and the effects of other extreme conditions, a tablet suitable for the Army must be ruggedized if its to emerge unscathed and intact.  In order to do that, it must pass the following tests:

  • Drop and shock resistance
  • Vibration resistance
  • Liquid resistance
  • Particle resistance
  • Temperature resistance (both hot and cold)
  • Humidty resistance
  • Electromagnetic energy testing

More importantly, whether it is being used in the field or in the Army’s classroom, the tablet absolutely must meet the security standards set by theUnited States government.

The Army is in the process of trying out multiple tablets to determine which meets their needs and standards, and which fall short.  The search is ongoing as they have yet to find the “perfect” tablet that is fully ruggedized in order to sustain the beatings it must endure, yet also meets the government’s rigid, yet necessary, security standards, such as:

  • Encryption capabilities
  • Authentication capabilities
  • Data protection
  • Compliance logging
  • Auto-blur
  • Lockout functionality
  • Plastic privacy filters

In response to the Army’s search, and that of many other federal government and public sector entities who are also investigating the possibility of incorporating tablet technologies into their day-to-day operations, Panasonic recently unveiled the ToughpadTM  family of professional-grade AndroidTM powered tablets.    The needs of mission-critical and highly-mobile workers were at the forefront of the Toughpad’s design requirements.

Developed by the team responsible for Panasonic’s line of ToughbookR mobile computers, the computer of choice for many of the country’s federal government and public sector departments for its promise of reliability, durability, and quality, the Toughpad meets the rugged and security standards required by these agencies. Backed by Panasonic’s world class service and support infrastructure, the product is poised to become the “tablet of choice federal government and public sector entities.”

As Michael McCarty has said when discussing the value of the tablet, “The potential is limitless.”  In today’s world, which many experts are referring to as the “post-PC era,” it is vital that government agencies keep up with the changing technologies in order to stay current and stay relevant. Test out a tablet today!