US military hires IBM to work on radios and phones that self-destruct remotely
The movie scenes with self-destructible phones are already on their way to becoming a reality. In asomewhat bizarre turn of events, the US military's researchdepartment, DARPA, signed a $3.4 million contract with IBM on Jan 31.It is aimed towards development of "materials, components, andmanufacturing capabilities" for "vanishing programmableresources" such as sensors, radios, and phones used by troops.
In plain English, “VPR” stands forequipment that can be discarded by any means, including programmedor remotely-triggered self-destruction. As part of the deal, IBM isworking on a glass-substrate material, which,coupled with remote triggers placed inside one (or multiple) areas ofthe
device, will make it disintegrate witha mini-boom. Like Snapchat for phones.
According to Dan Olds, an analyst withGabriel Consulting, the option of self-destructing is important forthe safety of sensitive data held on digital devices. Phones andcomputers left on the battlefield can end up in enemy hands and beprobed for many kinds of risky information, causing all kinds ofexpected and unexpected harm.
With mobile devices becomingincreasingly "paranoid", going as far as to utilizefingerprint and, possibly, iris scanners, who knows if next year'sflagships won't ship with a self-destruct command? Better yet, a self-destruct API which app developers (and malware) can take advantage of. Okay, we ought to calm our imaginations down, because IBM'ssmartphone-obliteration technology probably won't make it to theconsumer market. But we wonder whether any of you hold so much sensitivedata on your phones, that you'd be willing to destroy them remotelyif they ended up forgotten or stolen?