With nearly a half million apps currently residing in the Apple App Store, it’s safe to say that most will get lost in the mix, blamed mostly on over-simplicity and/or sheer irrelevance. Many apps we see today are just like the hundreds before it, or perform a novelty function that only gets used once before being deleted.
What does it take to stand out from the noise? How about a military grade GPS tactical navigation system that can call in air support, direct artillery fire and relay real-time information from the battlefield. Yeah, there’s an app for that. Army Capt. Johnathan Springer used his knowledge and experience from serving as an artillery specialist with the 101st Airborne Division to create what’s most likely one of the most advanced iPhone applications to date.
Called Tactical Nav, the app helps soldiers in mapping, plotting, and photographing waypoints on the field of battle — acting like a wartime location-based service, conveying coordinates to supporting units. Tactical Nav uses the phone’s camera and GPS to do things like call in air and ground support, direct artillery fire and track the positions of potential enemies. Using a grid-based map, it also recognizes specific latitude and longitude coordinates, going well beyond the basic GPS functionality usually found in iPhone apps.
Some of the advanced functionality includes a full military grid reference system (MGRS); 1:50,000 map scale overlay (1km by 1km gridsquares); route tracking and waypoint plotting; compass lock function with fast user switching between degrees, Mils, elevation, latitude/longitude, and MGRS coordinate data; camera mode with heads-up data displayed in real-time with photo stamping ability; one-button night mode function and much more.
Springer poured $31,000 of his own money into the development and design of the app, tapping Las Vegas-based mobile application development firm Raster Media to bring his vision to reality. “My wish is to provide a soldier with a very inexpensive, accurate tool to help them in combat or back in the states if they’re hunters or outdoor enthusiasts,” Springer explained. “I’ve got to think what do my soldiers need to go into battle? What do my soldiers need that could save their lives? So that’s what I’m thinking about right now.”
Springer, who is now on his third deployment, prides himself on the app’s attention to detail. Tactical Nav users are able to switch between degrees of latitude and longitude as well as angular mils, for example, a unit of measurement used by artillery teams the world over. The phone can also switch to red-light mode, a useful addition when soldiers need to conceal sources of light in the field.
Even though the app is powerful enough for use on the battlefield, the advanced location-based tech the app holds can be useful for hunters, outdoor enthusiasts or even helping one navigate a grocery store or department store. It’s a truly impressive example of the power of smartphones and the utility of mobile applications. Tactical Nav is available now in the App Store for $5.99.