The Marine Corps wants to hear your ideas for mobile phone applications that could improve how you live, work and fight.
Starting on Monday, Marines of all ranks can submit code for iPhone and Android apps as part of the Marine Corps Mobile Application Competition, officials said. An upcoming MARADMIN will include detailed information about how to enter the contest and a link to a website that can answer Marines' technical questions.
The types of apps the Marines are interested in fall into three broad categories: quality of life, physical fitness and warfighting, said Daniel Corbin, the Marine Corps' C4 chief technology adviser. The apps are meant to be simple but useful, he said.
"The commandant has specifically mentioned things like the 'workout of the day' app — where you might be able to challenge another Marine virtually," Corbin said in an interview. "Our boss, [Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall], who used to be a recruiter, he's even spoken of one called the 'official tattoo app,' which helps a recruiter take a picture of the tattoo and he then can send it wherever it needs to so it can be evaluated."
Marines are not expected to spend money to design or submit their apps, he said. Although the Marine Corps will own the intellectual property for all ideas that are submitted, that should not turn off Marines who may to pursue designing apps further.
"We will put in place a process that allows them to come back to the Marine Corps and say: 'I would like rights back to my application.'"
Even though iPhones are made in China, Marines can still design apps for them because the Marine Corps will make sure all ideas submitted meet the service's security requirements, Corbin said.
"These people — who may be novices, who may not understand the implication of security —– we want their ideas," he said. "We’ll then take it and make it secure before we offer it to others."
In November, the Marine Corps will announce whether any of the ideas for apps have been approved, Corbin said. Those apps would then be made available for free through vendors, such as Apple Store, he said.
There is no monetary prize for Marines whose applications are approved, but the winners would be honored at the Charleston Defense Contractors Association C5ISR Summit in December, Corbin said.
The contest dovetails into the Marine Corps' overall strategy of having all Marines understand mobile devices and be able to find new uses for them, Corbin said. The service has not yet considered whether it will select Marines who enter the contest for more training in information technology jobs, he said.
Marines interested in taking part in the contest must submit their letters of intent by Sept. 30 and their application package by Nov. 5, said Col. Kyle Dewar, enterprise data center technologist for the Marine Corps. The application package must include source code, instructions for building the mobile phone app, sample data files, if necessary, and a one-minute video describing the app.
"Marines know their jobs; they know their circumstances best," Dewar said. "If they're able to develop an app to help improve their life or their job function, that's a win-win for the Marine Corps."
The competition is meant to inspire ideas, especially from young Marines, who prefer using apps over other sources of information, such as websites, he said.
"Rather than having someone wait in line at the chow hall to figure out what the meal is, I can use an app and decide which chow hall to go to, based on the menu," Dewar said.