Thursday, May 17, 2007

Toilets and Mobile Handheld PDAs

This is a first - MobileDataforce is developing an inspection software solution for inspecting toilets using handheld PDAs. Our team in Newcastle, England is working on a project called WaterSmart. This application is for Water Utility companies to use to help homeowners conserve water and save money.

This is how it works:
  1. Inspectors swarm into a homeowner's bathrooms and start flushing their toilets, using their showers and filling their bath tubs.
  2. They measure outputs, water pressure, and the overall water use of a house.
  3. They use handheld PDA applications to collect all of this data and synchronize it back to headquarters
  4. The data collected results in recommendations for the installation of water conservation equipment in the home, which kicks-off a work order process
  5. The work order is dispatched to a service technician that travels out to the home and installs things like; balloons in the toilet to reduce the water in the tank, shower heads that reduce water volume to a dribble and many other clever things...

These mobile software applications are used for mobile inspections, data collection, work order dispatch and synchronization. These are very interesting projects and they allow us to play with cool new handheld PDAs and other mobile gadgets.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Auto Appraisals Using Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software

Reporting from the UK - Our team in Newcastle has developed a number of very interesting and compelling mobile handheld PDA solutions for the automotive industry. An application I previewed today enables service companies to complete many mobile services and use their mobile handheld computers to register and invoice the work. The solution was designed to mobilize the following three business processes:
  1. Mobile dent repair and minor autobody work
  2. Mobile Auto Detailing/Valet
  3. End-of-Lease Inspections

All of these business processes are completed on the mobile handheld PDA and synchronized with a web enabled database.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reporting from the UK - Mobile Automotive Solutions for PDAs, Handhelds and Smartphones

I am in Newcastle, UK this week on assignment. Our team here in Newcastle are experts in the automotive industry. They have many years experience working with mobile PDAs, handhelds and Smartphone solutions for vehicle auctions, automobile dealerships, automobile lease return applications and more. Today they demonstrated their mobile PDA solutions to a large automobile dealership with locations across Ireland.

The mobile solution they were demonstrating included a valuation component. A person could scan a VIN code and the description of the car would pop-up and auto fill the the electronic inspection form on the handheld PDA. The dealership would then inspect the car for damage and the final value of the car would be computed from the valuation database and the inspection.

This solution is used for automotive auctions, auto dealers, insurance and automotive lease return companies.

Friday, May 11, 2007

First the Dell Axim PDA Dies & Now the iPAQ Pocket PC???

Rumor on the street, at least in the mobile handheld industry world, is that HP may be discontinuing their line of stand alone PDAs. The rumor originated from a recent refusal by HP corporate to sell 1,000 current and supported iPAQs to a customer. No company rejects an order for 1,000 devices if they mean to continue them. This same customer was not able to source this iPAQ in any significant quantities from distributors either.
Keep in mind this is a blogged rumor...that means it is many times less reliable than the one from the cubicle next to you.
Even if true, HP may just be consolidating their iPAQs around iPAQ Phones.

LXE Using Animation to Market the HX2 Wearable Computer

LXE is using a cartoon character called the "Scan Man" to market their new wearable, rugged computer called the HX2. The HX2 has a screen made from the same material as a fighter-jet's cockpit windshield and is strapped to your arm.

I haven't spent much time thinking about wearable computers as I focus most of my time on mobile handheld PDAs, smartphones and industrial barcode scanners that run on Windows Mobile OS. Maybe it's time. Here are two interesting descriptions on LXE's website:
  1. Breakaway ring scanner improves operator safety by preventing snags. (Snags is another word for ripping your finger off)
  2. Voice enabled with ToughTalk technology. (I wonder if this was tested on sailors?)

This computer enables you to point at a distant object and voice order it to be scanned. The voice enabled computer is strapped to your arm and connected to a scanner ring that fits on your finger. Very clever! I wonder if there are any restrictions on which finger you can use to point?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Inside and Outside the 4 Walls with Mobile Software and Handheld PDAs

I have spoken to a number of handheld computer manufacturers and distributors this month and they have all emphasized that 2007 is the year to go out-of-doors with their handheld PDAs and handheld barcode scanners. The market inside the 4 walls is flat (no growth). The industry's growth is in mobility, the great rugged outdoors.
Symbol/Motorola has the MC70, MC50 and MC35 handheld PDAs and barcode scanners that are meant to be used in mobile out-of-doors environments. Psion Teklogix, Socket, Hand Held Products, Intermec and most others are dedicating sales teams and marketing campaigns to this mobile handheld and mobile software market segment.
From a software perspective, MobileDataforce started in this rugged environment. Our mobile software platforms were designed from the beginning to work equally well whether connected or disconnected indoors or outdoors.

Ryzex Buys, Sells & Recycles Mobile Handheld PDAs and Computers

If you don't know about Ryzex, you probably should. They buy old handheld barcode scanners as well as sell new mobile handheld PDAs. Why is that interesting? Many companies have a closet full of old and broken handheld computers and barcode scanners. Ryzex will buy, repair, refurbish or recycle them.

Ryzex has a very interesting business model. They focus on managing the lifecycle of handheld barcode scanners for their customers. They can sell, lease or rent new handheld barcode scanners, or sell, lease or rent old ones. Some jobs are just not sexy enough to justify new barcode scanners. Some companies, like engineering firms, do a lot of project work and only need a handheld data collector for 3 months so may want to rent it.

Casio Enterprise Handheld PDA

It looks like the term "Enterprise PDA" is catching on, at least within the marketing organizations of both Casio and Motorola. Casio has the new IT-10 (the name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue does it?) Pocket PC. You can use it in the shower and drop it from 3 feet to the soap covered tile floor. It is also shock resistant. Now that is thinking ahead! No one likes getting shocked in the shower, dropping their handheld Pocket PC and having it break all in the same morning. Now that is a unique marketing angle! If you don't take showers, the IT-10 is also dust resistant and doesn't have a nose.
Casio describes the IT-10 as a "new rugged PDA designed and built to be used for vertical applications in severe business environments." If I read that right, it is not intended for horizontal applications in good business environments. Hummm...Seems like you could make more sales if you sold products to companies in good business environments.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Juno Rugged Handheld Pocket PC

Trimble has just released, or at least I have just found out about, a new not-rugged Pocket PC (now Windows Mobile) called Juno, pronounced like but not to be confused with Juneau, Alaska. It looks rugged, but Trimble seems to want everyone to know it is not - The Juno™ ST handheld is a highly productive yet affordable, non-rugged GPS receiver for field data collection and mobile GIS. The Juno ST handheld is Trimble's most compact, lightweight, fully-integrated field computer, providing 2 to 5 meter GPS positioning in real time or after postprocessing.

The Juno ST handheld is ideal for utility companies, government organizations, and agencies that are managing large deployments and tight budgets....but don't mind breaking their handhelds and buying replacements that cost more than buying a rugged one in the first place (sorry I added that).
Garmin and Navman have long had PDAs with integrated GPS, but this seems to be Trimbles first efforts to provide low end, field data collection devices. I like the idea, but Trimble's marketers seem almost apologetic.

Another Plane Another Victim - Evangelizing Mobile Handheld PDA Applications

I was on another plane today and a senior engineer was unfortunate enough to be seated next to me. The engineer manages the building of highways and bridges. Hummm.... We do a considerable amount of work for companies involved in highway construction and bridge building by helping them implement mobile PDA solutions on rugged handhelds. In fact the largest engineering and construction firm in Australia has asked us to work with them on a number of interesting projects.
I love working with engineers. They have to collect data on everything and they often work on very strange projects.
Trimble is a ruggedized handheld vendor that develops a lot of solutions for this industry.
MobileDataforce provides a data collection software platform for rugged mobile handheld computers that allows engineering companies to quickly develop field data collection applications that are specific to the requirements of their customer's projects.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Clinical Trials & Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software

Clinical research is a very interesting industry to work. MobileDataforce is currently developing mobile software solutions (ePRO and eDiaries)for use on handheld PDAs for a number of different clinical research programs around the country. Let's identify some of the common terms you hear in this industry:
  • Clinical trials - controlled and monitored research following specific research standards

  • ePRO - electronic patient reported outcome (how did the medicine or treatement effect them?)

  • eDiary - electronic patient diary (how did you feel throughout the day?)

  • Real-time patient monitoring (near real time communication with mobile patients)

  • Patient self-reports (a patient reporting on themselves)

  • Clinical trial sponsors - the entity paying for the study?

  • Capturing clinical trial data
Capturing clinical trial data is where MobileDataforce excels. We have a number of different mobile handheld and Tablet PC solutions that are customized to fit specific clinical trial requirements.

The following list of links direct you to previous blog articles on clinical research and healthcare related mobile applications we have deployed: