What Should Your Ruggedized Edge Device Have Inside?

What Should Your Ruggedized Edge Device Have Inside?

The ‘front end’ of a ruggedized mobile device is the tier the user sees and interacts with, such as an application (app) or website. The apps themselves can live remotely in the “back end” of the computing model or on the device, in the “middle” layer.

Over the last few years, consumer product design has had a huge influence in user interface quality. Edge computing versions of all major operating systems, including the ubiquitous Microsoft Windows, are now available. In fact, growing preference for Android-based devices is one of the key factors driving growth of the ruggedized mobile computing market, according to Technavio. As a result, modern industrial apps and websites are typically optimized to run on mobile devices and the expectation is that mobile workforces can easily access databases and run complex computing applications virtually anywhere.

For these reasons, front end design is usually not a consideration for ruggedized mobile devices. However, running these apps and accessing the middle layer and back end at suitable speeds and processing data to effectively achieve goals requires a fine balance of sufficient central processing unit power, storage, and connectivity.

How does your data impact your edge device? 

The volume of data that modern ruggedized devices track – everything from oil and gas pressure to biological system data – is huge and can come in a variety of formats, including images, numbers, and text. And much of this data is not valuable unless it is available in real time (imagine the value of a pressure sensor reading that tells you too late that safety parameters have been exceeded!). That is why it is not uncommon for ruggedized device buyers to request technology specifications that exceed the performance of consumer devices, such as faster connection speeds and significant storage capabilities.

For example, connectivity goes beyond access the Internet. Depending on the workforce need, some rugged devices need a pass-through wireless antenna to support multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and wireless wide area network (WWAN) while also providing GPS data. Others, such as police, fire and EMS require cellular support for frequency bands often required for public safety and other critical applications.

Spend as much time as necessary with your potential vendor discussing the type of activities your workforce engages in so that they can correctly gauge your power, storage, and connectivity requirements. For organizations that require complex processing of real time data or even high-resolution images, such as healthcare, an experienced vendor will know you require greater memory bandwidth. (Memory bandwidth is the speed at which information can be read from and stored to a system’s memory.) Discuss any security concerns you have that might influence selection of technology (such as using the less common Android operating system) so they can ensure your needs are met.

Some ruggedized mobile devices can be purchased pre-configured with a specific combination of technologies to meet common use cases.  However, if you have any unusual needs or wants, you will want to work with a vendor that can custom configure devices.

To learn more about rugged devices, read the 2021 edition of the Comark Rugged Mobility Guide.

Questions? Contact your account representative or send us a note.