In the minds of many, the United States’ military operations the world over exist within a globe-spanning web of telecommunications and aerial firepower. In every military movie on the market, you’ll find bearded operators communicating with one another via two-way radios, uniformed infantrymen calling in air support, and CIA operatives using satellite phones to relay important information back to local command posts or even all the way back to Washington D.C. All of these movie tropes, and the real combat operations they pull their inspiration from, depend on one thing that rarely gets featured on the big screen: batteries.
Imagine a scene in your favorite present-day war movie where the protagonists come running into their armory to grab their gear, each scooping up a radio along the way, only to find that two of them simply won’t turn on. Our heroes turn and double-time it back into the armory, looking for spare batteries, then wait patiently as new ones are charged so they can get back to the playful firefight banter every movie uses to make the good guys more relatable. Seem ridiculous? It shouldn’t. Batteries, like any other technological marvel we’ve come to rely on, can go bad. When they do, it can mean death for American forces in harm’s way.
Global Technology Systems (GTS), a Massachusetts-based tech firm that specializes in mobile equipment, knows that, while Michael Bay rarely features the need for reliable, portable energy sources in the action sequences of his movies, it’s absolutely imperative in real-world emergencies. Whether it’s the paramedic treating your grandfather’s heart attack or the Navy SEAL requesting exfil, reliable communications depend on our ability to assess the state of any number of battery power sources and replace the ones that may fail when they’re most needed.
GTS has a 15-year history of providing mobile power sources to government and military organizations, but their newest product isn’t intended to power comms. Instead, they’ve set their sights on eliminating bad batteries before they have the chance to put lives at risk. Their new GTS Battery Tester can quickly and accurately assess the state of a battery, allowing service personnel the chance to test and replace them like never before.
Although government and military organizations already test their batteries regularly, the process requires a technician and significant investment in time, limiting the frequency these batteries can be tested and driving up costs. GTS aims to replace the traditional heavy box and hours-long testing cycle with a small contraption that ties directly to your smart phone and can determine a battery’s ability to absorb and maintain a charge in a matter of seconds, with no special training required.
If you’ve spent time in uniform, you can probably relate to two common field annoyances: comms being down and budget constraints. With that in mind, I reached out to Emily Tynan, marketing manager for GTS, to ask her why their new gizmo is worth making the switch from the tried-and-true methodology currently employed.
“If we can reduce the headaches currently associated with the battery testing process, such as long service times, overstocking, and inventory issues, etc., the costs associated with battery testing will drop as well,” Tynan told me over the phone on Friday. “Government and public safety organizations already know how important mobile battery testing is; we don’t need to convince them of that. What we’re trying to do is reduce the time it takes to assess the quality of the battery so that each mobile device can spend more time in the field as a dependable tool and piece of equipment, and less time at its respective headquarters being tested or maintained.”
The GTS Tester is a small box with two electrical probes. To test the state of a radio’s battery, simply remove it from the radio and attach the probes to it. Within seconds, the tester will relay the status of the battery back to a downloadable application that can be installed onto any mobile device. The tester was designed with the end user in mind, eliminating the need for specialized training, or for lugging around the traditional CADEX testing equipment.
“We actually provide the tester for free to organizations that contract through us for battery replacements,” Tynan explained when I prodded her about what such a device would set Uncle Sam back. “We simply want to help organizations be more efficient with their mobile power management. We even provide complimentary battery recycling supplies to help get rid of all the substandard batteries lying around. It’s really a win-win scenario.”
GTS’s new battery tester is already available to law enforcement and emergency services, as well as to private corporations that have a need for regular testing capabilities. According to Tynan, they’ll even send you a box in which to ship out your old batteries to a recycling facilty.
“Part of the benefit of the app and tester is that GTS receives data on your inventory and can provide new batteries to replace the bad ones, limiting any device downtime,” Tynan explained.
Like battery testing, budgets aren’t the most exciting things to focus on when putting together an action sequence for a movie. But in real life, few things can affect a soldier’s combat survivability, or a police officer’s ability to respond to calls, like the means to maintain communications without breaking the bank. Assuming the tester works as advertised, that’s just what GTS seems to have in mind.
Who knows? By making battery testing faster and easier, maybe we’ll start to see shots of our favorite action stars checking their battery levels in future “load-up” montages, with Bruce Willis loading the .50 cal and Sylvester Stallone checking his phone to make sure the radios stay up. Even if we don’t, we may well see GTS testers playing a supporting role in both real and fictional action scenes to come.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force