DARPA in the market for iPhone, Android apps

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the most advanced U.S. government research lab that famously created the Internet, is looking for developers to create iPhone and Android apps that would be useful to military personnel.

The apps could include a language-translation service, for example, or a navigation capability, according to media reports.

The primary goal is "to discover sources of commercial and non-commercial apps with potential relevance to the military specifically and the national security community more generally," DARPA said in its request for information.

"These apps may be used in situations such as the tactical battlefield, for humanitarian assistance and in disaster recovery efforts," it said.

DARPA acknowledged in the RFI the lack of flexibility for its current devices and the military's slow technology acquisition process, which can take years to complete.

"There is a real risk that these very technologies will be obsolete by the time they are in the warfighter's hands," the RFI said. "DARPA seeks to overcome current limitations and give our military ready access to the leading edge capabilities."

As some bloggers have pointed out, existing commercial apps could be used help soldiers, navigate, organize data, and make ballistic calculations for a sniper.