Seven “Must Have” Features of Military Rugged Tablets

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Military tablet computers must meet stringent operational requirements, and consumer grade devices don’t stand up to rigorous inspection and testing. Rugged tablets, however, can be custom built to withstand even the harshest environment, providing the security, stability, functionality, and speed of communication required for both on-base use and in-the-field mobility.

Rugged tablets will often be tasked with enduring wet or dusty environments, extreme hot and cold temperatures, and prolonged vibrations or repeated impacts. They must allow clear readability and operation in dark surroundings or bright sunlight, accept data input via a variety of options, be useable with gloved hands, bare fingertips, or digital styluses or pens, and deliver exceptional reliability at every turn.

Tablet internal components must match the rugged exterior, providing security, fast processing, and seamless communication of text, audio, video, and imaging. Military applications generally indicate that chosen devices display the following features in their design and construction:

  1. Durable housings must be impervious to contamination from dust, dirt, mud, water, moisture, and other contaminants, and should be capable of withstanding shocks, jolts, drops, and prolonged vibration.
  2. Displays must remain usable in direct sunlight and transition easily between dim and bright environments. Direct sun glare should be mitigated, and the display dimmable in dark environments for safety of mobile users in dangerous conditions. Customized displays should also allow input with touchscreens via stylus or even fingertip writing.
  3. Electronic components must be rated for wide temperature ranges, typically -40˚C to 85˚C Conformal coating of assembled circuit boards and/or potting of specific components may also be required to help prevent corrosion in humid environments or to aid in higher shock/vibration resistance.
  4. Military band radios, remote vehicle controllers, connective, military specific interfaces, and other government related options should be seamlessly implemented.
  5. Operating systems should prevent operation by non-approved users and allow customized configuration to manage specialized user and applications. Defining user and application access must be rapid and accurate.
  6. Encryption keys will enable the protection of both critical data and proprietary application codes stored on the tablet. CAC access can allow use of each device by a range of security levels, providing more flexibility and permitting one device to service several members on a team.
  7. Media blackout options and a “kill switch” function in case of loss or theft should also be part of a military device, and physical tamper detection mechanisms can be embedded to sense attempts to open the device or access it in other ways. Encryption keys can be wiped remotely, and the software set to self-destruct.

Designers of rugged military tablets must both understand the required applicable design of portable devices and be capable of managing the multiple requirements posed by electronics, operating system configurations, rugged casings, heat dispersion, display customization, data input options, and more.

Rugged Tablets are Driving the Migration to Digital Information for Mobile Military

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When deployed forces are able to rely on rugged computers, the benefits of the latest processing and data storage can deliver impressive capabilities to mobile missions requiring data to succeed.

Data in the field has become a serious priority, with a vast majority of mission- and safety-critical defense applications and aerospace verticals turning to rugged tablets to access key information for troop safety and mission success. Emphasized is the critical need for purpose-built, durable, high-performance mobile computing devices which can operate at top performance even in the most rugged of environments.

The military-wide shift over the past few decades to digital information and the use of connected devices both on and off the field has changed the face of communications in all branches of the armed forces. These changes have resulted in a massive demand for rugged tablets and other handheld devices capable of delivering the required data on land and sea as well as in air and space.

As defense moves in the direction of using tablets and 2-in-1 personal computers to bridge the gap between the old way of doing things and the new, a clear pattern of migration becomes apparent. As cell phones went from the “brick” to the clamshell to the slider to the slim, flat screened phones of today, so too have rugged tablets evolved from clunky, consumer grade devices to the high end, sleek, lightweight yet exceptionally durable devices of the modern age.

Maintenance and software in aerospace and defense is starting to catch up. Touchscreen interfaces and long life batteries with hot swap capability are becoming the norm as various branches of the military and homeland security adopt ruggedized systems. Administration, logistics, and field operations all benefit from fully functional, connected devices that are mobile and resistant to breakage, temperature, impact, and harsh environments.

Flight-line and field maintenance for military aircraft and land vehicles especially benefit from the introduction of rugged tablets, which enable them to digitize processes and implement usage of built in barcode or RFID tag readers.

Rugged tablets connected to satellite communications (SATCOM) can monitor and inform in-theater communications on the battlefield, providing situational awareness through mapping data, images, and videos shared via unmanned drones between the field, command center, and other deployed troops on the ground.

Rugged computers are in use at our borders, facilitating security, safety inspections, and highway monitoring through mounted applications in vehicles operated by both military and civilian personnel. Future applications are almost unlimited, as land, sea, and space are further explored and the demand for outstanding mobility and functionality continues to rise.

Streamlining Logistics with Purpose Built Rugged Tablets

Streamlining-Logistics-with-Purpose-Built-Rugged-TabletsSimplifying logistics is a definitive goal for the supply chain industry, but effective solutions have been hard to implement. Technological advances provide viable answers to the challenges that face packaging, warehousing, and transportation companies, and rugged tablets deliver flexibility and functionality.

Handheld out-of-the-box data devices don’t have customization, and consumer quality tablets have repeatedly failed to stand up to the demands of high energy logistics based environments. Rugged tablets are designed for both purpose-built functionality and durability, making the ideal solution for use in rugged environments, such as warehouses and loading bays.

Being able to assign a tablet to a dock, a vehicle, a shipment, or a specific vendor or delivery service can make tracking every item in a warehouse or system easy and effective.

Benefits of purpose built rugged tablets for logistics include:

  • Data capture via various formats, including keyboards, touchscreens, digital pens, barcode or RFID scanning, and image based instant code reading or image capture capability. Signature verification, payment or shipment / package release, onscreen input capture and card scanner options, and more.
  • Real time tracking and mapping, whether in the warehouse or on the road. Workers can track a crate, pallet, or box in the warehouse through the loading process, shipment, and delivery, all the way to its final destination. Multiple shippers are no problem, with updates on time or temperature sensitive deliveries and alerts about weather or traffic delays delivered instantly.
  • Communication between tablets and through a closed network to dispatch, vendors, carriers, and HQ are secure and private with encryption based on the latest technology. Lost or stolen tablets can be tracked or wiped remotely if required.
  • Documentation errors are minimized, data handoff seamlessly achieved, and duplication of work slashed to a minimum with immediate updates across systems.
  • Tablets can be handed off without fear of damage in rugged environments, mounted securely to vehicle dashboards or static terminals, used with docking systems for swift mobile to hand carry status, and even used in areas with high humidity, severe weather, and temperature extremes.
  • Screens that adjust to light availability allow easy indoor to outdoor transitions, and touchscreens, detachable keyboards, digital pens, and battery charging stations ensure the tablets can be used around the clock as needed.

Rugged tablets can be expected to keep providing superlative answers for the logistics industry, driving supply chains forward while improving productivity and speed.

 

How Medical Tablet Technology is Driving Military and Veteran Health Care

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Medical tablet technology is taking medical care for military personnel and veterans to a new level. Medical tablets are portable, can be connected easily to systems to access electronic health records and lab results, and can track medication schedules and patient compliance with their treatment plan.

In the field, mobile medical tablets can provide a fast way to access medical information about a sick or wounded service-member, leading to better outcomes with real time evaluation supported by medical base staff.

In military hospitals, tablets can be assigned to a bed or a patient, and be accessed and updated in real time by all members of the medical team. Tablets can also provide patient infotainment, which can be beneficial for patients with anxiety and deliver much needed information about their health and care in an easy to absorb format.

Telehealth in the VA is being driven by rugged medical tablets which can be used from anywhere, delivering a way to reach patients in remote and rural areas and provide means for doctors, nurses, and health care professionals to maintain contact with those who need to be monitored without admittance to a facility or the need for constant transportation for outpatient observation.

Rugged tablets for medicine can be safe and secure enough to satisfy the most rigid HIPPA requirements, with CAC access and two step verification if required. Different members of the medical care team can access what they are cleared to view, while specialists and lab technicians can remotely send updates securely to the doctor of record and collaborate on patient care.

The advantages of mobility in medical care cannot be ignored. Veterans and currently in-theater service members can both benefit from improved access to medical professionals and telemedicine makes it possible for even soldiers on assignment in remote locals to receive help.

Civilian first responders can also use rugged tablets to help coordinate veteran care with clinics, hospitals, and VA doctors when a patient is unable to be transported to the appropriate VA facility, with information provided in real time as to the patient’s medical history, service related conditions, and more.

All in one medical tablets flawlessly combine healthcare and IT with patient infotainment, patient tracking, HER access, records and imaging and test results, and can be expected to provide even better care to military service members and veterans in the months and years to come.

 

Smart Tablets for Smart Cities: Introducing Edge Computing

Introducing-Edge-ComputingBy 2050, it is estimated that 70% of city dwellers will live in smart cities. Already many cities qualify as at least having begun this process by introducing one or more integrative options such as smart traffic lights, buildings, transport or waste collection to their city’s infrastructure.

The most important thing when handing over the keys of the city to automated and digitized processes is that there not be a breakdown. Most smart traffic lights and buildings operate via the cloud, meaning if the cloud connection and any backups fail all ‘smart’ things in the city could stop working. This could have devastating effects in transportation, waste management, and more.

City planners can combat the problems of cloud-hosted smart city technology with edge computing and mobile tablet tech. Instead of depending on cloud hosting via a fallible network connection – which even with multiple “failsafes” can still be made vulnerable – intelligence can be shifted to ‘the edge’: a set of smaller clouds that collaborate locally and can be accessed with mobile devices as needed.

Such a setup helps minimize the risk of an entire smart grid going down, and allow workers access anywhere, at any time, to insular systems that have the intelligence embedded in the technology instead of separated from it by virtual space and time.

If smart city applications have a user interface and a ‘layer of logic’ on a tablet, the device can be used to communicate with microservices whether they are stored in the cloud, on the edge, or in a combination of both places. Edge computing and the cloud backing each other up provides a layer of protection that brings intelligence closer in an emergency instead of taking it further away.

Smart Cities

An example of smart technology that uses edge computing would be city vehicles that are being tracked by a fleet management application. Smart tires can send data to the management app, delivering data on tread wear, air pressure, vehicle speed and handling, and more. Instead of sending data directly to the fleet management application, data is initially gathered through the edge – a small computer on board each vehicle, that wirelessly obtains data from the tire sensors and delivers it.

If the fleet application goes down, or the truck drives through a tunnel or a dead zone and the connection is interrupted, the on-board computer or telematics box can still continue gathering and saving data, and be remotely accessed or tapped into later by a worker with a rugged tablet.

API testing, human-centric testing, and code-centric testing can be combined with network simulation to enable multiple scenarios for troubleshooting and analysis purposes. IoT enabled test automation and a shift from the cloud to edge computing powered by mobile devices could be the future of smart cities in 2020 and beyond.