GCN Insider | Rugged with everything

TRENDS & TECHNOLOGIES that affect the way government does IT

We've seen everything get rugged, from notebook PCs to videoconferencing gear. So what do we find interesting about the ruggedized mobile Catcher, from Hamilton, Va.-based Catcher Holdings Inc.? A couple things. First, the Communications and Telemetry Handheld for Emergency Response (CATCHER) has a pair of two-megapixel cameras, one directly above the touch-screen LCD and one on the back of the unit facing the opposite direction. Catcher CEO Charles Sander brought us a unit and showed us how it could be used to effectively support videoconferencing and surveillance at the same time.

Second, the system runs Windows XP Professional with Pen extensions, not something like Windows Tablet PC. What's the big deal? We've heard from more than one handheld device developer that porting Windows-based applications to specialized versions of the OS can be tricky, expensive and time-consuming. Running XP with extensions helps avoid that problem.

The Catcher, which resembles an oversized PlayStation Portable with fat rugged handles on either side (to hold batteries and various radios'including GPS, CDMA/GSM/GPRS, 802.11 and ultra-wideband), is still ramping up production. Sander said about 40 units have been made and sold to various contractors who are evaluating the systems on behalf of government. It's also undergoing MIL-STD-810F testing for ruggedness.

All the functionality, including a built-in fingerprint reader and optional RFID scanner, won't come cheap. Sander said the Catcher would start at $5,995.

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