4 reasons mobile tablets are becoming the ‘go to’ device for the military

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

4 reasons mobile tablets are becoming the ‘go to’ device for the military

Maximizing productivity has become a priority across private and public sectors -- and the military is no exception. As part of the push for increased productivity, military standards are evolving to reflect modern computing infrastructures, technological advances and higher standards for communication. Part of this shift includes rapid adoption of mobile technology to create seamless workflows between military administration and field deployment.

Today, military information infrastructures include secure wireless and cellular broadband networks that break down traditional boundaries between indoor and outdoor tasks. By using mobile devices within a secure network, military personnel can effectively relay information and minimize manual data dissemination from administration offices to and from deployed field commanders and staffs.

By using a rugged mobile tablet connected to a secure network, military personnel can see blueprints, watch tutorial videos and check inventory, making them better equipped to inspect, repair and install parts on an aircraft, military vehicles or ships. Having a mobile tablet allows users to efficiently communicate and receive critical information in real time.

The practical advantages for gathering, viewing and transmitting data using rugged mobile tablets during tactical, first response, flight line support, repair and maintenance, inventory management, training and other situations outstrip the limitations of the desktop.

Here are four factors driving the rapid adoption of mobile tablets in the military:

1. Secure, closed networks. The real-time transmission and review of data that mobile tablets enable are widely attributed to the emergence of secure networks in both wireless LAN and cellular broadband. With improvements to protocols essential to secure communication, Wi-Fi has become highly valued within the military and public sector. IT managers can fortify wireless networks with various encryption tools that protect networks at the application or data layer.

Developments in edge computing -- defined as data processing at the edge of a network rather than in a cloud or central data warehouse -- have also increased security. Analysis can occur at the source of the data, allowing users to stay within secure networks while working remotely.

2. Real-time information sharing. The ability to instantaneously view and share data is the single greatest driver for the military’s adoption of rugged tablets. Real-time information exchange reduces time to action while improving overall operational efficiency. In the private sector, this provides a competitive advantage, while in the public sector, real-time information carries considerably greater importance. Equipped with data capture capabilities, such as barcode scanners, cameras and readers for common access cards, radio frequency identification and near-field communication, rugged mobile tablets are purpose built for taking in and sharing data in the field. With the addition of hot-swappable batteries and multibay battery chargers, users can to stay connected and be fully operational regardless of the work shift duration.

3. Electronic advancements in extreme environments. Because of the extreme environments in which they operate, military organizations use rugged mobile tablets, which are much more dependable than traditional tablets. Rugged tablets are built to withstand physical punishment, such as drops and vibrations that would break screens or interfere with the use of other hardware. Designed for extreme temperatures ranging from -20C to 60C, many rugged tablets have sealed entry points for water and dust resistance and outdoor viewable screens for use in varying weather conditions.

Sunlight-readable screens, meanwhile, let military personnel view information under direct or indirect sunlight. Some manufacturers offer resistive touchscreen tablets, ideal for working with gloves or in very humid environments. Rugged tablets are an ideal form of computing hardware created to function in the demanding conditions that characterize various military settings.

4. Flexible form factor. New mobile tablet form factors have increased their versatility for the military user. New 2-in-1 rugged tablets, featuring a detachable keyboard, allow personnel to use a single tablet device in both the field and office. For example, when capturing data in the field, personnel can use the mobile device as a traditional tablet with an on-screen keyboard and digital pen. When back in the office, they can use the attachable keyboard for more efficient typing and data entry tasks.

Additionally, this dual functionality appeals to a broader set of users -– both older personnel who prefer laptops and younger staffers more familiar with on-screen keyboards and controls.

Changing times

Computing needs are changing everywhere, and the military is keeping pace with rapidly evolving mobility solutions. Rugged mobile tablets are key to embracing the change in technology and provide a means of communicating indoors and outdoors with the unique combination of durability, remote data access and transmission, closed network security and flexible form factors.

About the Author

Daw Tsai is president of DT Research.

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