After reorganizing in September, SAIC [SAIC] has taken its “solutions as a service” model a step further by carving out a space in mobile applications for the military.
|Screenshot of a TIFS lesson. Photo: SAIC.|
The company, which now focuses on services and IT enterprise systems, presented several applications in development at this week’s Association of the United States Army annual conference.
Set to launch in beta at the end of the month, TAC-CAM is a mobile surveillance system that feeds into any tablet using an Android platform. With a camera mounted on the outside of a Humvee, the tablet collects high-definition footage with GPS coordinates that can later be reviewed by soldiers for location awareness.
Jonathan Powell, SAIC’s Mobile Apps Task Lead, said the company began developing the app two months ago when an Army unit approached SAIC for help with an app that it had unsuccessfully prototyped on its own.
SAIC and its competitors have been exploring apps for in field and in theater use, but Powell said he believes TAC-CAM will be “the first one that gets to the soldier.”
The company has also been developing Tactical IMI Framework Solution (TIFS) after the Army’s Software Engineering Directorate (SED) expressed interest in mobile field training. TIFS provides training modules on tablets that a commander can use with his soldiers without needing to transport laptops or projectors.
Each soldier has a tablet to follow the course. The app is hardware and platform agnostic, meaning that it can be run through the web on any type of device. The app shows the instructor analytics for how well soldiers score on quizzes. It also has a question feature, where soldiers can type a question to the instructor without having to raise their hands.
Powell said SAIC is working with existing funding from SED, for which it is the prime contractor, but it would need additional funding to take TIFS beyond the development phase.
While the apps keep pace with SAIC’s new model of responding directly to customer needs, Senior Vice President for the Army and Air Force John Gully recognized that demand for mobile apps may wane with the combat drawdown.
“That pull we’ve had coming from the theater for so long is not there anymore,” he said.
Gully said the apps, which are more cost efficient to begin with, will still be applicable in peacetime training, as the Army seeks to keep its soldiers engaged beyond the battlefield. While the technologies are generally new, he said soldiers are increasingly asking for mobile options.
“Army officers in procurement are getting used to it,” he said in reference to the integration of new mobile platforms.