Living in a yellow submarine isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sailors in the U.S. Navy can't have iPads because of spying concerns, nor can they have a stack of books due to space limitations. So what's a sailor to do?
Now, the Navy has finally made its own secure e-reader with hundreds of books and no Wi-Fi. Hey, it's better than nothing.
When sailors aren't aboard ships or submarines on special missions, they of course have access to the Navy's huge collection of e-books on their Kindles, iPads and Android-based tablets. However, as soon as the board a ship or submarine, they are no longer allowed to use these devices. Instead, the sailors are stuck borrowing a limited number of books from the small library onboard. When it's the submarine's library, the selection is even more limited.
Finally, the Navy decided that its only choice was to go high-tech - or at least, as high-tech as it can get without compromising security. So the Navy turned to its long-time partner, Findaway World to make the Navy-approved e-reader called NeRD.
"What would be considered limiting [for] the technology is actually perfecting the device for its designated audience," says Findaway World.
Although it may not sound like much to us privileged main-lander civilians, these Wi-Fi-less, port-less NeRD devices are a huge step up for Navy sailors.
"Since we have the digital product available while sailors are on shore, we wanted to find a way to get digital accessibility while sailors are on ships," says Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the library program. "They can keep 300 books that would have taken up their entire library locker in their pocket now."
The Navy will produce 365 of the NeRD devices at first and give five to each submarine to share. Hopefully, for the sailors' sake, that number increases soon so each sailor gets their own. All of the NeRD devices will have about 300 books preinstalled at first, with popular fiction, bestsellers, classic novels and Naval history making up most of the selection.
Of course, the NeRDs will be for Navy sailors only and will not go on sale to the American public.