We were recently talking about the “state of the industry” here at Motion and how there are so many device manufacturers now trying to penetrate the field mobility space. Regardless of their history as either consumer brands or perhaps laptop/desktop providers, all these manufacturers are aggressively trying to make their mobile devices “enterprise-ready” to meet market demand. This sudden focus on field mobility and scramble to “innovate” had us scratching our heads a bit. Motion Computing saw this opportunity 14 years ago and, although we too started with basic tablets to get our foot in the door, we have spent over a decade improving each generation of those devices so that they better match the needs of our field customers – often anticipating future needs to extend the investment ROI of our customers.
It’s just intriguing to see so many others – including companies that seem to have a stronghold on the mobile “enterprise” market – talking about improving their products to what we at Motion would consider to be our second generation designs. Designs that we introduced in 2007. They are playing catch up to us…but the “old” us. Our tablet PCs are in fact many generations ahead of where many competitors are struggling to get to today. So, let’s take a look at the challenges we faced – and have addressed – since 2007 and where our competitors will have to get today if they want to come anywhere close to catching up with our current tablet PC innovation (and catch the attention of customers in field mobility sectors):
- Needed Then: Remote management capabilities, dual input modes with a stylus and a physical keyboard on the tablet PC
- Motion Today: All three as standard features, and we’ve
added touch capabilities too.
- Needed Then: Wireless performance
- Motion Today: Tablet PC design optimized for internal antenna performance. Remember, the goal isn’t to connect the device to an access point in the family room or conference room like a consumer smartphone or laptop would. It’s to connect to an access point in an industrial space with thick steel obstructions and interference. Few competitive tablets approach Motion’s level of design today.
- Needed Then: Outdoor viewable screens
- Motion Today: Exactly that.
In fact, we designed and tested these screens in our engineering labs over 10
We get a LOT of sunshine here
in Austin, TX, and we are outside developing and testing our screens. We’ve used
the physics of optical surfaces to prevent reflections, coupled with top-end LCDs
that can have vivid screens. Others have tried to outshine the sun with the
brute-force method of increasing the back light to create outdoor viewable
displays, this will only give you a device that drains the battery faster,
heats up the tablet or notebook, and still delivers a mediocre result. That’s
why we’re still the leader in delivering “sun”-friendly screen.
- Needed Then: Screen protection for impacts
- Motion Today: Corning® Gorilla®
Glass on all tablet PCs. While iPhone and Android devices also use this
technology, we were the first to use it on our devices and are now using the 3
rd generation of the Corning Gorilla Glass
- Needed Then: Hardened devices with greater Ingress Protection (IP)
- Motion Today: Rugged tablet PCs with smart IP specs that match the environmental challenges that field
Our devices will not only survive a
4-foot drop, rain and dusty places, but they’ll work just as well as they would in
- Needed Then: Our devices to survive the heat (Did you know that if the internal chips operate above their specified temperature range they can literally melt?)
- Motion Today: A top-of-the-line heat
management solution proven to prevent those meltdowns:
High-performance Intel® processors that run at the speed you
need. Throttling is rarely required to
protect internal components (unlike most of our competitors’ tablets).
- Needed Then: A way to make the devices easy to use in the office and vehicle
- Motion Today: Custom vehicle mounts
and desktop docks for all of our tablets that (bonus) will seamlessly connect
to my monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, network and power.
Immediate PC-style setup when I want it, and
immediate mobility with grab-and-go disconnect when I need it. I’m still amazed
at how few tablet and notebook manufacturers offer custom docks, but not surprised
we’re still the leader here.
- Needed Then: A way to carry the devices easier in the field
- Motion Today: Carrying cases
purpose-built to aid in use of the tablet PC in the field.
Now remember, cases are NOT the answer for protection in a harsh
environment. They add a lot of bulk, but even more importantly, they provide no
protection if they are not on the tablet. Protective cases sold as separate
accessories are typically big cases, often doubling or tripling the volume
carried, so they are often removed by workers. Pointless investment, right?
That’s why Motion’s design is well thought-out. The tablets themselves are
rugged and safe in work environments. But some workers who are on their feet
for hours appreciate carrying the purpose-built cases. Motion’s design of the R12 Tablet system, for
example, allows a case to be on the R12 tablet AND docked with the case on. So
a worker in a vehicle can still grab-and-go with the tablet. No need to undock,
place tablet in case – and then swap out when returning to the truck or car.
- Needed Then: Longer battery life
- Motion Today: Tablets that draw less power to run 6-8 hours on a charge, plus hot swappable: The battery in our F5 and R12 series of tablets can be replaced without turning off the tablet.
Now, in reviewing this list, Motion’s custom docks may not seem like an innovation… until you consider that service organizations require vehicle docks that can be used for years. That requires the manufacturer to commit to the same external shape (form factor) of the tablet for years. Our F5 series was introduced over seven years ago, and we just launched our newest generation of the F5 with the latest Intel® mobile Core™ processors. Our fifth implementation of internal chip and feature updates to the F5 without changing the external shape. Over the past seven years, we also migrated from 802.11b to g to n and then ac. And LTE wasn’t even a defined wireless standard when the F5 was first introduced, but the same chassis now houses 4G LTE-ready technology with dual MIMO antennas. And, yes, it still docks in the original F5 dock that we shipped in 2007 because it is the same form factor.
So when we hear about changes to a tablet or other mobile device to make it enterprise-ready, we say “Welcome to 2007!” We are “N” generations beyond that, and already working on developing the next generation.