ARLINGTON, Va. 30 July 2013. U.S. military researches have awarded another contract aimed at placing the right mobile software applications into the hands of warfighters for use on rugged smartphones and tablet computers -- this one involving cyber security and mobile applications security.
Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., awarded a $1.8 million contract earlier this month to Metronome Software LLC of Laguna Hills, Calif., for cyber security and app security as part of the DARPA Transformative Apps program.
Transformative Apps seeks to develop a military mobile apps marketplace to make new capabilities available for use in the field. Ultimately the program seeks to move the resulting systems to the end users in the military services, and nurture a new model for acquiring, introducing, maintaining, and enhancing software, DARPA officials say.
Metronome Software experts will focus their attention on cyber security and mobile applications security. Some DARPA Transformative Apps technology has been tested in the field in Afghanistan, and DARPA officials hope to make more widespread deployments and create a broader selection of apps.
Metronome Software has expertise in secure mobility, mobile application development, app store management, web development, and cyber defense in Linux-based distributions. The company also is involved in the U.S. Army Multi-Intelligent Agent Framework (MIAF) program and the Air Force Secure Mobile Platform (SecMP) program, in addition to DARPA Transformative Apps.
Today’s military handheld computers and networks are robust and secure, but they also are fairly inflexible and costly, DARPA officials say. New applications, and modifications to existing applications, can take years to field.
The DARPA Transformative Apps program builds on commercial practices to produce secure, affordable, and rapidly deployable solutions for the warfighters, capitalizing on existing commercial smartphones and tablet computers for initial development and evaluations.
Of particular importance for the program are middleware and tools to enable secure and reliable operation of apps on tactical networks in spite of limited backend computing and storage.
The program also seeks to develop an affordable and secure mobile tactical network compatible with commercial smartphones. Also part of the program are vulnerability analysis and security architecture.
Ultimately, DARPA officials want to help make handheld devices and apps broadly available to the lowest military echelons through a centralized marketplace for military apps that meet the evolving requirements of the battlefield.
DARPA researchers envision at least two apps repositories -- one with beta apps for initial app evaluations, and another repository with apps that have been vetted, certified, and approved for use.
Apps will fill diverse needs of the tactical battlefield, including humanitarian missions, disaster recovery, command and control, reporting, mission planning, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time collaboration, geospatial visualization, analysis, language translation, training, and logistics tracking.
The program targets the Android operating system, with emphasis on user interfaces, usability, simplicity, and ease-of-use. Some apps will function without network access, while others may require more consistent network connectivity.
For apps that rely heavily on network connectivity, DARPA is emphasizing minimal bandwidth consumption and application robustness in spite of frequent network disconnection.
The program involves middleware and libraries to help share capabilities and accelerate app development. Examples technologies include map viewing, time services, data synchronization, speech recognition, information assurance, peer-to-peer services, and apps management.