US military research wing Darpa is joining the scrum for smartphone app developers, looking for people to build tools for controlling drones and other hardware from handsets.
According to Darpa, it needs to better exploit such sensor system hardware. “Darpa is looking to tap the smartphone application development community with experience in application creation,” said Mark Rich, Darpa program manager.
Darpa said tech tools such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) had become indispensable intelligence gathering platforms, but would be more effective if an app were created that allowed a swarm of small deployed UAVs to be controlled as a single unit using smartphone technology.
Without commercial developers, Darpa fears hardware in its Adaptable Sensor System (ADAPT) program would remain under used.
“The rapid advancement and sophisticated capabilities in today's smartphone technology provide opportunities to revolutionise the way sensor systems are developed and used,” Rich said.
“The integrated processing, storage, communications, navigation and orientation functions built into smartphone hardware and software can create far more powerful distributed sensor devices than we use today.”
Darpa said the programme would use commercial smartphone development approaches to design, build, manufacture and test a common hardware and software architecture that could run a variety of low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor applications.
Rich said the core hardware and software, with Android-like functionality, was already under development.
However, developers will have to work in a very different environment to colleagues writing games for the Android Market.
“The main difference between the ADAPT sensors and commercial smartphones is that the sensors won’t include an embedded user interface, such as touch screen, phone, camera or battery,” Darpa said. “ADAPT sensors may be buried, onboard a UAV, or may be used in a small robot.”
Intelligence apps would use the internal sensors - such as accelerometers, gyros or magnetometers - and external sensors, alongside radios to allow devices to work together.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk