Twenty years ago, it was admittedly hard to convince some industry watchers that rugged tablets – still somewhat in their infancy – were in fact cutting-edge technology that would soon become a primary pillar for 21 st century mobility. In fact, there were more than a few technologists that doubted companies such as Xplore could drive demand for these historically “utilitarian" pen computing platforms beyond a niche market segment, even if they were emboldened by “big ideas’.
As Conrad Blickenstorfer, editor of Pen Computing and RuggedPCReview.com, recalls: “ by and large, handhelds and tablets were very far removed from the booming world of desktop computers and laptops and printers and the latest of absolutely-must-have PC software.”
It’s no wonder that ruggedized notebook manufacturers and others who thought they had the market for field service pen computing locked down may not have expressed real worry over rugged tablet competition. They were enjoying the prolific acceptance of portable clamshell PCs by the newly-mobilized business sector, and their customers weren’t widely aware that there was a better solution available. These OEMs, and quite frankly many PC industry followers, were far from concerned about a rugged tablet takeover. With rugged tablet designs often left looking “a bit unfinished” and the implications of a fully functioning 10-12” PC yet-to-be-understood, no one thought these mobile PC platforms could appeal to the mass market audience or fulfill customers’ needs for a portable “desktop replacement.”
Even Conrad had his doubts, as he notes in his recent blog about Xplore’s record-setting 20th anniversary: “Xplore’s Genesys… looked like something right at home on the Starship Enterprise. Cool industrial design, bold lines, even bolder plans. Having seen my share of grand plans I admired the effort but wasn’t convinced that these folks' vision was actually going to see the light of day, let alone become a success.”
Boy, was everyone wrong.
As soon as Xplore rugged tablets hit the market, organizations worldwide in nearly every public and private sector began leveraging the technology in some capacity to mobilize their workforce, introduce unprecedented efficiency into routine workflows, and extract new revenue generating opportunities from existing business processes. And rugged tablets have long played a direct role in the realization of modern day goods and services. They’re being used to produce, maintain, and fly airplanes; manufacture some of the world’s highest quality automobiles; guide and protect military forces and public safety professionals in the line of duty; mine and refine the Earth’s most precious resources; build and maintain our nations’ most critical infrastructure; and cultivate a highly-connected, highly productive workforce that is empowered to make their mark on the world, no matter their job. But these examples are just the beginning.
Check out all the cool things that Xplore rugged tablets are doing today:
XSLATE D10 rugged tablet is (literally) the driving force behind FUSION,
a breakthrough hybrid underwater vehicle developed by Strategic Robotic Systems
that will soon hit the market (
see the press release). The
Xplore rugged tablet was exclusively chosen to serve as the Human Machine
Interface (HMI) for this unique 3-in-1 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV),
Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and DIVER Navigation/ Propulsion system after
other mobile computers failed to meet the project’s development requirements
and performance standards. And yes, the D10 looks like a cool video game
controller with this detachable control dock complete with joysticks,
thumbwheels and hot buttons. But the missions this topside control system will complete
are very real: The Xplore tablet will be used to program and execute mine
countermeasure (MCM), explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) and other military inspection
tasks, as well as search and rescue or body recovery operations.
- The maritime-friendly Xplore XC6 – truly the most rugged tablet on Earth –
guiding Gaetano Mura on his record-setting Around the Globe solo sailing expedition.
- The Motion by Xplore C5 rugged tablet was used to confirm the true length of the Great Wall of China in 2014 with complete clarity…for the first time in history. See how the survey team leveraged the rugged tablet in combination with helicopter drones and pods to create an advanced technology system capable of the aerial mapping and 3D modeling needed to achieve such a monumental feat . Watch the video now: TheGreat Wall of China, Unbelievable Secrets & Unknown Facts - Part 1 (*The segment on the rugged tablet-powered survey technology starts at the 4:40 mark )
And though “groundbreaking,” “futuristic,” and “pioneering” may not have been words widely used to describe rugged tablets in 1996, they certainly describe the types of missions that are being completed today thanks to rugged tablets’ exclusive computing power, flexibility, and mobility. In my opinion, rugged tablets deserve the widespread household recognition that your iPad receives because, believe it or not, they were enriching our lives and alleviating the challenges of such life-changing accomplishments for nearly 14 years before the first iPad ever came to market. (And they are still far more advanced than today’s ‘latest and greatest’ off-the-shelf tablets, including the iPad).
In fact, I predict rugged tablets will serve as the catalyst for the conceptualization – and realization – of others’ innovative visions in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Just look at how Xplore rugged tablets are being utilized by Hollywood in their depictions of our future world:
- Xplore’s XSLATE B10, D10 and R12 tablets, along with the flagship XC6, are giving scientists, engineers, and space exploration advisors the insights they need to take us to the new frontier in National Geographic’s epic new MARS global event series premiering Monday, November 14, 2016. Learn more about this mission and see the Xplore tablets inaction in the first episode now, produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
- Xplore’s XC6 ultra-rugged tablet is used by the park’s emergency responders in the blockbuster Jurassic World.
- Xplore’s B10 rugged tablets are being used by law enforcement officials in the new Travelers TV series airing on Showcase in Canada and coming to Netflix in December 2016.
Admittedly, with all of the cutting-edge technology that’s come to market in the last 20 years, it is impressive that the rugged tablet would still be the only mobile tech platform capable of leading these modern-day visionaries – each trailblazers in their own right – as they make their mark on history. And, sure, the rugged tablet may have been an underdog technology 20 years ago…simply another mobile computing platform conceptualized by a team of visionaries compelled to bring their “big idea” to fruition. But if the Xplore team hadn’t ignored the naysayers and powered on to perfect the formula for mass market rugged tablets solutions, then would these folks have the technology they need to accelerate their own quests to become pioneers in their fields today? That’s why, even after 20 years, Xplore won’t falter in its commitment to designing, engineering, and delivering the most rugged – and only truly customer-defined – tablets on Earth.