Researchers as Sandia National Laboratories (US Govt Lab) have built a self-contained, Android based network comprised of 300,000 virtual hand held computer devices to study cyber disruptions and to help secure hand held devices.
The project known as Megadroid will result in a software tool that will help model similar environments and to allow developers to study the behaviour of smartphone networks. It is also sophisticated enough for researchers and any other potential user to zoom-in on a specific device to see what is happening to it during a simulation.
A key element of the Megadroid project is a spoof “Global Positioning System” (GPS). Simulated GPS data is created of a smart phone user in an urban environment. Data is then fed into the GPS input of an Android Virtual Machine. Software on the virtual machine treats the location data as indistinguishable from the real GPS data, which offers researchers a much richer and more accurate emulation environment from which to analyse and to study.
It is envisaged that the project will be used primarily as a tool to ferret out problems that would manifest themselves when large number of smartphones interact. Issues to do with Data protection and data leakage is also planned to be studied.
As the U.S. military struggles to both harness the proliferation of smartphones among active duty personnel to aid operations while at the same time maintain security around the numerous disparate devices — Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, etc — that have bloomed among the armed forces thanks to the “bring your own device” phenomena, MegaDroid could provide a huge opportunity to help the army.
Another application for MegaDroid is that could be used to test how smartphone networks might be affected by natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. A fleet of mobile phones could be used as a sensor bed where members of the emergency services could take pictures of affected areas with the cameras on their phones and quickly build a 3D map.
But it could also be used for commercial applications; although Sandia is first and foremost a U.S. government lab, the MegaDroid researchers are also open to receiving solicitations from private companies looking to test their apps on the software, as well as academics, security researchers and other government agencies.
If Foursquare had a city’s worth of Android devices sitting in the room next door to test their platform a certain smartphone usage behaviour can be discovered and analysed.