Magazine Article | May 18, 2011

Tech Trends: Rugged Mobile Computers Behind The Wheel

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine.

Rugged mobile computers are designed to go anywhere your customers' employees go — whether that's to the roof of a building, the crawlspace under a customer's house, or the middle of a swampy field. For some applications, however, these devices spend most of their time inside a vehicle.

Vehicle-mounted terminals (VMTs), whether they are laptops or tablets, are designed to be utilized both inside and outside a vehicle. They may be mounted on carts, pallet jacks, forklifts, ATVs, motorcycles, or inside aircraft, public safety vehicles, or heavy equipment. Each of these applications presents its own obstacles for the integrator and the end user.

As in any type of mobile deployment, the rugged mobile computer should be carefully matched to the customer application in terms of battery life, processing power, and ruggedization. For in-vehicle applications, though, there are a few specifications that are even more critical. "An increasingly important hardware feature is a daylight viewable display," says Patrick White, VP of strategic marketing at General Dynamics Itronix.

Each application and vehicle class presents its own challenges. Mounting devices in tanks, heavy-duty trucks, or forklifts can be difficult because these vehicles do not have traditional suspensions, leave the computers exposed to external forces and stresses. It is important that VARs guide their customers through the selection process to ensure that the rugged mobile computer is properly ruggedized.