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.
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.
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.
In nature, evolution is a process by which a species develops and diversifies over many generations through a selection of the most desirable traits for survival. The technological world functions much like this in that products are constantly modified and changed throughout the years in order to improve and select the features that are most appealing to the market. In recent times, we have seen the tablet undergo a major “evolution”, from humble beginnings to becoming the device of choice for many. This begs the question: Does the rise of the tablet pcs spell the end of the laptop? A device once thought revolutionary, the laptop has taken the backseat to the tablet, but when looking at the two, which one comes out on top?
Companies are constantly searching for ways to keep costs at a minimum and are finding that a major area of loss every year is the warehouse. Through simple errors such as short picks, over picks and mis-picks, companies squander hundreds of thousands of dollars every year through shoddy warehouse accuracy. The numbers may be insignificant when looked at individually, however the difference between 99.8% accuracy and 99.9%+ accuracy in the warehouse can result in substantial gains to the company.
Many organizations today deal with a large amount of merchandise that requires processing and transportation. Technology has come a long way in aiding these processes and vastly improving their accuracy whilst at the same time keeping the cost to the company at a minimum. The Intermec CK3X mobile computer is the latest innovation from Intermec. Through its adaptable and ergonomic design, the handheld computer can lead to increased productivity in the workplace whilst simultaneously being cost effective and simple to deploy.
On the way back from our Christmas holidays we stopped at Cann River for a driving break and some coffee at one of the local Cafes' . I noticed a man dressed in high visibility clothing walking around a public building obviously taking notes probably on the maintenance and condition of the visitors center he was carefully inspecting. Every time he noticed something of interest he would put his laptop on the ground, take a closer look, open a rusty door or inspect the flaky paint. He would then pick up the laptop, rest it on his left hand and using one finger search and destroy data entry technique with his right hand, painstakingly enter his report information.
When catching a train into the city, you are sure to notice the many billboards and advertising slogans designed to capture the attention of the commuter on his long and often uncomfortable commute to work. On one of my recent trips to the city however, I noticed a billboard that was out of the ordinary. It was a large billboard, easily visible from within the train. It said nothing, it didn’t have any catchy slogans or facts or statistics. It was just an enormous QR code. I couldn’t believe that a company would pay so much to simply have this code printed on a billboard, but it did open my eyes. From there, I started noticing QR codes everywhere. They’re in advertising, on leaflets, on bills and they’ve even been printed on a cupcake and minted on a country’s currency! It seems that the QR code is the next big thing in technology, but what exactly is it and how is it useful?
Only a week ago I was watching the movie Ironman on television. The billionaire entrepreneur Tony Stark was down in his lab building and modifying his new Ironman suit. As his aides, Tony had a host of machines that he commanded and told what to do using nothing but his voice. As I watched this I thought to myself, this is more Hollywood fantasy, technology hasn’t come this far. However upon thinking about this, I realized we weren’t that far away and that voice technology is something we are embracing more and more. You don’t have to look past your iPhone equipped with Siri or Samsung using S voice to see that speaking to machines is not confined to a Hollywood studio. Upon looking into this more, I discovered that voice technology isn’t just used occasionally in phones to find the nearest restaurant, but instead is incorporated in the running of entire factories and vastly improves productivity through the use of applications such as Wavelink Speakeasy.
Last month registered adults had to vote for their local council or risk a 75-dollar fine. Having only recently turned the legal age of 18, this was my first time voting and it was something I was looking forward to. Within my ward, it is necessary to visit a polling place in person to register your vote, as the option to vote by mail is not available. The Australian Electoral Commission however does send every registered candidate a letter informing them of their obligation to vote as well as a list of all the candidates who are participating.
I recently drove the long and fatiguing trip from Melbourne to Sydney in order to visit some family who live there. As my GPS kept constantly reminding me every few hours, breaks are essential on a trip of this length in order to stay fresh and alert on the roads. If you make this trip however, you will notice the plethora of trucks that constantly traverse this road in order to deliver goods from one state capital to the other. To accommodate for these trucks, there are a host of truck stops along the highway. Some of these stops have been adapted so that one can take a break, fill up their vehicle, have a bite to eat and in many countries the option to wash ones truck has become available.
As the technological world advances, we are finding new ways of incorporating technology into our lives in order to make them easier. More and more I am finding that facets of my life are moving online and away from traditional methods. My university learning is moving online and much of my assessment is completed online. Even ordering a pizza, a task that previously required face-to-face interaction or picking up the phone, is now something that can be done with just a few clicks online. This technological advancement has moved into retail with the introduction of enterprise tablet pcs; a specialized tablet that is custom built to suit retail and bring improvement not only to the business but customers too.
The tablet is one of the hottest and most rapidly developing technological devices in current times. After some research however, I have discovered that the tablet itself is not a new device but instead has become widespread in the general public through the efforts of the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy and other recent models of tablets. It seems that every white-collar worker is substituting his laptop for a tablet of some kind and every child wants an iPad under the Christmas tree. There isn’t a day that goes by at university where I don’t see a student either following a lecture on a tablet or playing games on it when their interest starts to wane. However, from this we can already see that the modern tablet is a “one model fits all” machine in which programs are run, games are played, work is done and social pursuits are followed. In contrast, earlier tablets have very much been specialized devices that are designed to fit the needs of various companies and individuals. In particular, industries that require the use of a forklift have often utilized tablet PCs long before the iPad was ever heard of.
Having recently traveled interstate via plane, it is quite easy to get swept up in the daily hustle and bustle at the airport. In the rush of being one amongst the thousands of passengers traveling every day, checking baggage in, passing security and locating your gate; it is easy to neglect some of the smaller but essential jobs that must be completed for an airport to function properly. Being a man who always has to be early, I was at my gate with over an hour to spare. Whilst staring off at nothing in particular lost in my own thoughts in order to kill time, I noticed a man in a wheelchair being escorted by airport staff to his plane. This got me thinking: How exactly do airlines coordinate passengers who require special needs? The answer I found out lies in handheld computers such as the Intermec CS40.
There is a lot of talk about “Lean Warehousing” at the moment and how it is the future of warehousing practices however many people still do not know exactly what lean warehousing is. Many believe that to have a lean warehouse it means reducing staff numbers. This is a common misunderstanding; lean warehousing simply means that companies employ working practices which consider the different resources involved in getting the products from the warehouse to the customer while eliminating the actions which do not contribute to the value of the product such as unnecessary paperwork and double handling of equipment.
Recently we had a skip delivered to our house after pulling down our old deck and replacing it with a nice new pergola. My partner had organised for the skip to be delivered in the afternoon and all I had to do was be there and hand over the cash. Unfortunately when the nice delivery driver dropped off the skip and I handed over the money, I was informed that he did not have any change to give me. To make matters worse, I didn’t have any smaller notes to be able to give the correct amount.