Windscreen wiper on a tablet – no problem!
As the business uses for rugged mobile computing devices continue to rapidly expand, customers are increasingly looking for a device that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the different roles within their workforce. This personalisation can be met in a variety of ways, for example, with peripheral complementary solutions or integrated functionality to help make the most of the devices. Panasonic already has a wide range of specialists solutions that can be used with its TOUGHBOOK devices, from thermal cameras to barcode scanners – but what if you wanted something a little bit different? Say windscreen wipers for your TOUGHBOOK tablet. It sounds crazy but it can be done.
The wacky wipers idea was just one of the more fun suggestions put forward by participants at the Concept in a Day session run by the Solutions Engineering team at the recent Panasonic TOUGHBOOK Innovation Forum. At the start of the day, participants were challenged to suggest a new addition to the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK line-up and the mechanical, electronic and software engineers at the TOUGHBOOK Design Lab in Cardiff put their minds to the test and developed a concept within just 6 hours.
Challenges accepted by the Solutions Engineering team included a TOUGHBOOK tablet with a windscreen wiper and a request for a rugged tablet with a multi-fingerprint identity scanner. They start by considering the customer’s business problem and then apply their technology knowledge and creative design to create a practical solution. And it’s not just a fun mental exercise. Using the same approach – albeit over more than just a day – the team has already designed, tested and rolled-out a range of solutions for customers. These include everything from turning TOUGHBOOK tablets into rugged drone controllers, to creating fixed dashboard mounts for easy use by emergency services personnel in their specialist vehicles.
Panasonic has replicated its design and testing capabilities from Japan in its European facility in Cardiff and the technology to bring a new product to market fast is pretty impressive. It includes 3D printing capabilities to rapidly create prototypes, environmental chambers for testing extreme temperature and humidity, as well thermal shock testing machines, which can go from -85C to +40C degrees in just two hours. All this, alongside the extreme use, drop and electromagnetic testing you also might have seen in the recent virtual tour of the Panasonic manufacturing facility in Japan.
So, how did our designers get on with their latest challenges? Well by the end of the day, there were two concept designs for a rugged TOUGHBOOK G1 tablet with biometric fingerprint identity scanner that could be used by security and border control personnel. The fingerprint scanner was provided by partner Five-O and integrated into a purpose designed casing for the device, with a single handstrap for ease of use. An alternative second design incorporated a foldaway fingerprint scanner.
The team also delivered a design concept for the TOUGHBOOK A3 Android tablet with a screen wiper. The design incorporated the motor and rechargeable battery for the screen wiper within a housing at the back of the device that didn’t inhibit any of the tablet’s other functionality. This housing could also be used to provide a good viewing angle for the tablet when placed on a flat surface. The design team admitted that after just 6 hours there were still some wiper issues to resolve but they were confident it could be delivered.
Will anyone ever need a TOUGHBOOK with a windscreen wiper? Probably not, but it was the perfect challenge to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of the solutions engineering team at Panasonic. The next time you have a mobile computing challenge, why not get in touch?
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