Mobile Computing

Information on the Move

Capture data on the what mobile computing can do for your business. Whether it's your sales representative or your service engineer, mobile computing combined with the power of bar coding, helps your field staff in gathering information in the field itself enabling them to make decisions in real time. The sales team can utilize mobile computing to make effective sales and gather market data, while your service team can provide much more intelligent and prompt service to your customer.

Mobile Computers

The mobile computers are basically computers having their own display screen, RAM, Flash/ROM, battery and optional bar code scanners. Mobile computers are fully working computer having their own processors and are fully programmable to business requirements.

They also have following characteristics :
  • Capture information in real-time
  • Download/upload data quickly via batch or wireless communications
  • Hold or wear your mobile computer
  • Integrate scanning capabilities
  • Enable web browsing
  • Connect to a portable printer

Typically all mobile computers have Memory, LCD Display with back lit, rechargeable batteries. Memory is the heart of a mobile computer. It stores the operating system, application software and all data files that allow you to create all kinds of documents. As a general rule, the more memory you have the better. More memory allows your mobile computer to store more programs and process information faster. However, if you try to run applications without sufficient memory, they may not operate correctly. So, if you plan to load up on applications, look for a mobile computer that offers upgradeable memory or supports removable storage media. The downside of increased memory is that it drains your batteries faster. Mobile computers use LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) back-lit screens that are basically the same as those used in laptop computers. Since the screen is the key interface between you and your information, choose a mobile device with one that can display the data needed to complete a task. Power for your mobile computer comes from either alkaline batteries or a removable battery pack. Many models also include a small back-up battery to protect you from memory loss should your main batteries fail while you are using your mobile device. In general, you can expect a set of alkaline batteries to last a few weeks under normal use. A rechargeable battery pack typically runs for several hours between charges. The most common types of battery packs are nickel cadmium (Ni-Cad), nickel-hydride (NiMH) and lithium ion.

The Mobile computers can be broadly classified into three groups:

  • Key-based
  • Pen-based
  • Vehicle Mount

Key-based :

When you have a data-intensive application that requires manual entry of information, a key-based mobile computer is the answer. Built with full, easy-to-use alphanumeric keyboards and large back-lit displays, key-based mobile computers are productive tools for many applications from the retail floor to the loading dock. These mobile computing devices are available in batch, or with Spectrum24® wireless LAN connectivity for high-performance communications, and some offer wireless wide area connectivity. Many are based on PalmT Operating Systems, DOS, or Wince CE® operating systems.

Pen based :

The hallmark of pen-based mobile computers is that they do not have a keyboard. Instead, you enter and retrieve information using a pen-like stylus. Designed specifically for mobile, information-intensive applications, pen-based terminals increase efficiency and effectiveness and are rugged enough to go virtually anywhere. They are indispensable for on-the-move workers in all industries who need to collect data where it originates. The pen-based devices are available in batch, wireless LAN and wireless WAN versions.

Vehicle Mount :

When your requirements call for a mounted mobile device for use on a forklift or motorized pallet, Symbol has durable and full featured, industrial mobile computers that will enable your mobile workers to capture, compute and communicate data wherever they are in the warehouse. These heavy-duty workhorses perform in the harshest environments, can port to a bar code scanner and can enable operators to wirelessly transmit data to and from a remote host system. These menu driven, touch-screen, truck mounted computers simplify real-time management of material, work-in-process and finished goods. Productivity zooms because workers receive the latest work orders and updates without leaving the truck.

Operating System

The operating system is the backbone of the mobile computing device. Several operating systems are available for mobile computers, but the most prevalent ones are the DOS Operating System, and the Palm Operating System, Microsoft® WindowsCE® and the Pocket PC or Windows Mobile Operating System. DOS is a convenient and powerful operating system that enables efficient programming and development of demanding and information-intensive applications. However, it is a single user operating system, running only one program at a time. The Palm OS runs multiple programs at one time, and enjoys a reputation for simplicity, operating speed and easy customization through third-party software add-ons. A multi-tasking OS WindowsCE is basically a mini-version of Windows that has more memory and more functions than devices based on the Palm OS. Pocket PC is a version of the WindowsCE operating system. Devices running on the Windows-powered Pocket PC platform have a new, easier-to navigate user interface, extensive Internet browsing capabilities, pre-loaded applications like Word, Excel and a powerful overall performance.

Communication with Host System

At the heart of the mobile computing revolution is the ability to move information quickly and easily from the mobile device to a desktop PC and vice versa. Within the mobile computing community, we call this function synchronization. All mobile computers come with some form of synchronization software. Once installed on both systems, it allows a mobile computer and desktop PC to exchange information using a common application, such as a word processor or spreadsheet. A mobile computer can communicate wirelessly and exchange information with the host in real time, or through a batch download/upload option.

Typical Applications for Mobile Computing

  • Warehousing
  • Shipping & Distribution
  • Work-in-Process Tracking
  • Sales Force Automation
  • Route Management
  • Field Services and Utilities
  • Healthcare