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Modern society is incredibly fast paced. People demand speed in their lives, as time is very precious. Fast cars, fast Internet connection, fast computers and fast phones are just some of the things that people are constantly striving for. Similarly to this, with the prominence of online shopping, increasingly, people want their goods delivered the same day that they place their order. In fact, a study of over 350 large transport and logistics organizations commissioned by Intermec showed that 77% of organizations have customers that demand same-day delivery. Many companies struggle to cope with these demands and are searching for ways to increase productivity and reduce costs. One of these methods is the introduction of mobile solutions.

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One of the most rapid and prominent advancements in the field of technology over the last decade has been the improvement in smartphones and the rate at which the general consumer has taken them up. All of a sudden, everyone from a high-powered CEO of a major company, to the most technologically challenged of individuals has a powerful computing device in the palm of their hands.

Businesses have attempted to utilize the widespread popularity of smartphones to reduce their own costs through allowing employees to access corporate data on their personal devices rather than issuing a company device. At the surface level, allowing individuals to access their emails or even enterprise data and applications from a personal device seems harmless and cost cutting. However, there are many hidden costs and security issues that need to be dealt with before a company should consider allowing personal devices to enter the corporate world.

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For many years now, Microsoft has dominated the playing field when it came to operating systems for the niche market that is rugged handheld computers. In fact, Windows Embedded handheld 6.x and Windows Embedded CE dominate over 80% of the market as of 2013. The scene is set for a change all of a sudden however, as in late 2012 Microsoft announced their latest operating system, Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. Whilst this operating system will not be available until late 2013, several factors have opened the door for other alternate mobile operating system platforms to chip away at the rugged handheld market and get a foot in the door.

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Companies that have embraced computer technology for many years will have programs that they have inherited from earlier platforms, utilizing technology that is “more primitive” than that currently available. These programs are known as legacy programs and can prove problematic for some companies. Legacy programs are found in all fields of work including transportation, logistics, manufacturing and retail. Since these programs are written for earlier operating systems, the challenge for these companies is to integrate them with current technologies, in particular handheld computer devices. Short of completely rewriting the program, terminal emulators are often used to enable access to these programs on all devices with minimal fuss.

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Think of the daily wear and tear that you put your mobile phone through. Do you regularly drop your phone? Does it have a few scratches and dents that tell the story of a night out or a moment of clumsiness? Handheld devices such as barcode scanners are no different, they are put through consecutive hours of use and often subjected to a fall or an “on the job accident”. These accidents come part and parcel with the job, however can be dangerous in certain lines of work. Impacts can lead to leaky batteries and in severe cases, even explosions. There have been numerous documented cases of exploding phones, the same can occur for any handheld scanners. For companies, the damage done by this can be far more severe than simply replacing a unit - instead much collateral damage can be caused. For those who work in mines near explosives, in pharmaceutical companies near dangerous chemicals or in petroleum companies surrounded by gas and petrol as well as other dangerous environments, these handheld computers need to be built sturdy to prevent potentially catastrophic situations.

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