In the construction, oil and gas, transportation, military, medical, farming, or manufacturing fields – or many others – you perform very unique tasks for your job. You often use a generic commercial phone or tablet, and find the device is inadequate. Commercial off the shelf devices with an app might seem less expensive, but are you really getting what you need or are you putting your phone or tablet in a position to fail, or to fail you?
Many of these market verticals have common requirements for processing power, touch screen, Wi-Fi or other forms of wireless connectivity, storage space, etc. These types of features can be found on most off the shelf devices. However, these devices often fail within your use case. For example, most commercial devices don’t operate with work gloves, are prone to breakage when dropped, can’t be used or survive in wet environments including heavy rain, lack required interfaces (e.g. CAN bus or RS-232), are unreadable in bright sunlight, and are subject to a host of other shortfalls. Additionally, there are concerns of long term device availability, control of software installation and device configuration, unwanted operating system updates pushed by vendors, security, and more. Given this, you start to wonder if there is a better way.
At InHand, we can take your requirements and design a custom mobile device that will meet the needs of your specific application and environment. We have done this for the automotive industry, military UAV control, military training, test instrumentation, oil and gas explosive atmosphere test equipment, water testers, mobile field service, and a host of other applications.
Whether you need a tablet, a handheld device, body worn device, or an embedded system, here is a list of some of the features that you may need that make your device both usable and reliable:
- Ruggedness – ability to withstand drops, vibration, dust, water, and impact.
- Sunlight readable display – incorporation of backlit high brightness displays or transflective displays for outdoor use, readable even in direct sunlight.
- Low light display – on the other end of the spectrum, incorporation of low light capability such as NVIS (Night Vision Imaging Systems) displays for military and other sensitive night time applications
- Heads up display interfaces – interface to a head mounted display for military, medical, or VR/AR applications
- Network capabilities – in addition to or in place of basic Wi-Fi, upgraded network capability such as enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, military or other special band radios, wired Ethernet, Power over Ethernet (PoE), personal area network (PAN) 802.15.4, or low power wide area network (LPWAN) capability can be integrated securely within the device.
- Unique interfaces or connectors – integrate functions not standard to smart phones or tablets right into the mobile device, such as serial communications (such as CAN bus, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, or MIL-STD-1553), rugged connectors (including MIL-DTL-38999), or a proprietary link to sensors or connectivity.
- Long battery life – larger batteries and optimized circuitry and software provide the lowest power consumption and longest time between battery charges for your application.
- Unique ergonomic requirements – whether the device must be very small, fit in a specialized pocket, mounted in a special dock, or wrapped onto your arm, a custom mobile device can meet the requirement.
- Security features – control of your entire system, with defined the levels of security designed in from the start. We can incorporate software and hardware security features as required.
- Controllable software updates – avoid undesired and mistimed software updates, such as new Android operating system releases that are pushed to your device, reset it, and sometimes prevent your application from running. With a custom device, you have control over configuration and timing of updates of your software.
- Fleet management – monitor the status of your deployed devices, including location (via integrated GPS). Remotely control device configurations and updates on a per-unit, groups of units, or fleet-wide basis.
- Regulatory requirements – specific industries often require unique product testing and certifications that are not available for commercial off the shelf phones and tablets. It is often difficult to retrofit such devices to pass certification and maintain reliability over the intended usage life of the product. Whether it’s MIL-STD-810 or MIL-STD-461 for military devices, ATEX for explosive atmosphere, FDA for medical devices, or some other standard, a custom mobile device can be designed from the ground up to comply.
- Long product life cycle – design for long term availability and serviceability, often for 10 years or more, through the smart selection of components and subsequent tracking parts for obsolescence.
- Branding – with a custom device, give it your look and feel, and put your company’s name on it.
- Production – we’ll help you out through the life of the product with our manufacturing partners and excellent test infrastructure.
Mobile device applications for industrial markets often present a unique set of requirements and challenges that often render the use of commercially available smart phones and tablets impractical, useless, or subject to early and unpredictable failure. These problem can be overcome through the design of a custom mobile device. The design of industrial mobile devices, with the tight integration of high tech electronics, the need to withstand harsh environmental and handling conditions, requirements for long term availability, and other non-obvious requirements derived from the above requires unique technical knowledge, development and manufacturing processes, and supply chain management for long term success.
InHand Electronics, an industry leader that specializes in the design of mobile devices, low-power embedded circuitry, systems, and software for original equipment manufacturers of handheld, Internet of Things (IoT), and wireless devices. Contact InHand for an evaluation of your custom handheld device concept.