Bracer™ – new Android Application for Position Location Information


Tim Williams - Business Development Manager, Secure Communications

Accessing and processing data in the tactical domain has become essential for operators to maximise the probability of success.

This can be for the passage of information, such as:

  • Full motion video from air and ground sources
  • Imagery
  • Chat functionality
  • Threat changes
  • Weather
  • Enemy and friendly force positions
  • Tactical plans
  • Intelligence

All of this information contributes to improve user situational awareness, resulting in more informed and effective decision making.

When introducing new products and capabilities into the military and other tactical environments, interoperability is a key consideration. From initial design through to the introduction of QinetiQ’s secure (end to end encrypted FIPS 140-2 Level 3) Iridium Push-to-Talk (PTT) and Position Location Information (PLI) system, Bracer™, interoperability has been paramount. As a PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) capability, the system is plug and play with a variety of different audio ancillaries (commonly used in the military Harris L3 to Apple iPhone handsfree), the GlenAir STAR-PAN data hub, Resilience Tactical Voice Bridging products, BaseCamp Voice Bridging products, WAVE Radio over IP and different GIS and Command and Control Systems such as ATAK, WinTAK, Google Earth. 

As technology has advanced in recent years, the use of ruggedised laptops in the tactical environment has largely been replaced with tablets and smart phone data entry devices, reducing size and weight. Many of these devices work on the Android Operating System (OS) allowing for application based functionality. Until recently Bracer™ Situational Awareness software was only compatible with Windows OS. This was constraining users to visualise tracking feeds at HQs, in vehicles or requiring them to carry heavier/bulkier data devices in the field.

Our new Android Application

QinetiQ have now developed the Bracer™ Android software. This simple-to-use application outputs in both Cursor on Target (CoT) and kml format to allow for position reports to be overlaid in third party Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) such as Google Earth, ATAK etc. 

Bracer with android

How does it work?

The Bracer™ Position Location Information (PLI) reporting is a broadcast service where the handset is the transmission and receive device. This means that every handset in a talkgroup can be set to receive PLI from all handsets in the same talkgroup. By simply tethering a data entry device (Android, Windows) running the Bracer Situational Awareness Software and a compatible Geospatial Information System (i.e. mapping) the PLI feeds can be overlaid as ICONs on a map, visualising troop disposition.

This differs from many Situational Awareness tools/systems, which require a separate communications link to a central web server to enable positional reports to be pulled. This provides the ability for users to have visibility of the position picture in the Tactical domain whilst maintaining agility. Each Bracer™ handset can pull positional information from the talkgroup on demand as well as each device pushing information on a regular basis. Therefore updates can be obtained on request at the touch of a button. This enables beyond line of sight, very low latency Bracer™ PLI distribution and associated situational awareness, especially when fused with other data feeds from primary and alternate tactical systems (e.g. Mobile Adhoc Network (MANET) radios, drone feeds and intelligence reports).

What are the benefits to the user?

Developing the Bracer™ Android software will reduce the size and weight of equipment required on the foot user, but it also has the same impact for users working in vehicles, air and maritime platforms. In all cases it means not having to use/carry a bespoke data entry device, especially if the user has an existing system already fitted or used within the platform. 

Since joining industry and looking at defence from an external view, plus gaining experience through engaging with many international defence organisations, I have noticed many common themes:

  • Budget underpins everything and money is constrained due to multiple reasons, many of which have materialised over the recent years
  • The pressures on limited human resources to process requirements
  • The complex, convoluted and lengthy procurement processes

The three of these combined drives prioritisation and focus. In parallel, the nature of warfare and conflict is constantly changing. Getting ahead of the changes is almost an unachievable utopia.

When discussing with officers and soldiers across the world, I have come to learn that some tactics and procedures haven’t changed in over half a century. Although the beast of defence procurement is working hard, the technology required on the battlefield is often decades behind what is needed to win the battles. The need to communicate is essential to support and coordinate forces. As part of this is a true understanding of the state and positions of formations and personnel, which is critical to informing current and future operational plans. More importantly is the need to pass and receive information in the ‘here and now’ active battle zone. 

As a technological 'chameleon' Bracer™ plugs many gaps and addresses the three common issues referenced above, as well as offering many other benefits:

  • It is a low cost system
  • It is simple to purchase as an off the shelf capability
  • It is flexible, allowing for the changing dynamics of warfare and conflict
  • It is effective, robust, reliable and simple - reducing deficiencies and giving users the advantage
  • At only 450g, it is lightweight
  • It has a power-scavenging feature so it can recharge in the field using a multitude of power sources, reducing the weight from carrying additional batteries
  • The antenna systems that can be used with the handset are small (from thumb size magnetic mounted or patch antennas)

How can Bracer™ be used?

Bracer™ can and is utilised in many roles across PACE to meet a multitude of needs, including:

  • Military exercises and tactical operations
  • Adventurous training expeditions
  • Search and Rescue
  • Border Force patrols

All of these use cases have similar demands.

Many of our users regard the system as ‘Game Changing’, especially where their primary systems are often not conducive or fit for purpose for the roles they are asked to prosecute. Adding Android compatibility offers the users desired choice and flexibility, all of which aids to achieving successful outcomes in operations.

To find out more about Bracer, email us at