Thanks to charity efforts, it’s not too difficult for a soldier overseas to find a cell phone to dial home on. Finding a smartphone however, is a bit more difficult — and finding a wireless signal to make that smartphone worthwhile is a whole different game. WiFi hotspots don’t exactly come easy in the middle of the desert, you know?
Next week, Lockheed Martin will be announcing a new project called MONAX. While the technical details are being held back until the announcement, Lockheed has disclosed MONAX’s overarching goal: to bring 3G signals to the soldiers on the battlefield.
As Lockheed Martin puts it:
MONAX enables the use of smartphones and delivers data, imagery, video and applications to soldiers in the field. It means that our warfighters will have the same broadband capability and rich smartphone interface and user experience “at the first tactical mile” that they would have at home.
So how does it work? According to the media advisory, next week’s announcement will bring the opportunity for reportors “to view how a smartphone fits into the MONAX handset”. Read that again: how a smartphone fits into the MONAX handset. Unless we’re reading that wrong or there’s a typo in there somewhere, that means the key element of MONAX is a separate, stand-alone piece of hardware that connects to your smartphone to bring the 3G juices where they otherwise wouldn’t exist.
So what is it? A battery-powered 3G femtocell fueled by an already-in-place infrastructure, like those built for sat-phones? A big ol’ hardware encryption box to keep things secure? We’ll find out next week.