A new hardware system is looking to combine the best of consumer smartphones or tablets and military-grade optical systems. The Special Operations Apps / System for Optical Attachments or [SOA]2, designed by a private contractor, is a set of adapters and apps that allows soldiers to connect infrared, night vision, or long-range cameras to the iPhone 4S or new iPad. Once a device is connected, the phone or tablet acts as an external display. It also can record video and mark the location where it was taken. Future versions of the app could include facial recognition or tracking, and the team is looking to expand it to other phones like the Lumia 900 or the Nokia PureView, which already has a 41-megapixel camera.

While the US Department of Defense is strict about what devices are allowed for official use, it's increasingly warming to the idea of developing for phones or tablets. A build of Android was recently approved for official use, and the Navy is looking into using web apps to help fight maritime piracy. Since the information collected by [SOA]2 would likely be sensitive, having it stored on a consumer device could raise some red flags for the military, but the team will be presenting it and answering questions at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference this week in hopes of getting an official contract.