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28 Jan 14. When the Defense Information Systems Agency announced earlier this month plans to roll out software for managing the Pentagon’s mobile devices, the news went wide. Reports surfaced that the Pentagon would be supporting 80,000 new BlackBerry devices on its mobile device management platform. The news helped boost BlackBerry stock from about $9 per share to nearly $11 per share in less than a week, according to The Verge. Many news outlets thought the Pentagon was ordering 80,000 new devices. (See this C|Net report, for example.) The truth is “absolutely no new orders have been placed for new BB devices,” the Defense Department told The Verge. “The DISA press release put out Jan. 16 never alluded to any devices being purchased. The 80,000 BBs and 1,800 non-BB devices referenced in the release are legacy systems already in DoD inventories.” In fact, DoD’s BlackBerry devices are supported by a separate Blackberry Enterprise Server and will not be supported by the new MDM solution. Our earlier report made clear that DISA has not specified how many devices will be supported on the new MDM when it rolls out Jan. 31. By year’s end, the solution is expected to support 100,000 devices, according to DISA. “Right now, [DISA] will be deploying Android and iOS devices with this solution, but it can support other devices, which DoD will have to approve to be used,” Kathleen Urbine, senior vice president of DMI’s Enterprise Solutions Group, said in a previous interview. “You have the Samsung with the Knox solution. You have Windows mobile 8 devices. These are devices of the future that if DoD chooses, can be supported.”
DMI is providing the device management solution under a $16m contract. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

28 Jan 14. Battlefield electronics that do their job, then vanish? Planned obsolescence is a sore point with users of commercial electronics and information products, whether they’re recently purchased smartphones rendered “obsolete” by incremental upgrades models or software releases that avoid backward-compatibility. But the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to add a new twist to the idea, developing electronics components that would, on purpose, become useless either on command or when they’ve gone unused for a pre-determined stretch of time. The agency recently awarded BAE Systems Advanced Technologies a $4.5m contract under its Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program to develop transient electronics that perform like commercial electronics but have what DARPA calls “limited device persistence.” The idea behind VAPR is to keep electronics — including sensors, environmental monitors, medical devices and the components of radios and phones — out of the hands of enemy combatants if they get lost or left behind on the battlefield. When it announced the launch of VAPR in January 2013, DARPA noted that sophisticated electronics — many of them small, inexpensive devices — have become ubiquitous on the battlefield. Those devices are essential to operations, but they also can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to keep track of. VAPR aims to develop a “revolutionary new class of electronics” devices that will work only as long as they are needed, then essentially melt away. Their demise could be programmed into the devices and adjusted on the go, or triggered by a command or changes to its environment, according to the program’s goals. DARPA acknowledged in announcing the program that achieving its goal would be a challenge, likely requiring a multidisciplinary approach. But there is at least some precedence for dissolving electronics. DARPA itself has made some progress with biocompatible electronics that dissolve in a small amount of liquid and could be used to implant medical treatments in the field. Some of the differences with products under the VAPR program a

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