Two Technologies HANDGEAR|
Ultra-rugged, all-in-one handheld computer
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
The HANDGEAR, unveiled in November of 2010, adds another innovative mobile computer to Two Technologies' roster of unique, colorful and eye-catching solutions. Generally thinking outside the box, this time the Horsham, Pennsylvania, based company thought inside the box by coming up with an ultra-rugged mobile computer that's a veritable toolbox of stuff a mobile workforce may need: with a HANDGEAR device, mobile workers can capture pictures, scan bar codes, read mag stripes, capture fingerprints, and even print receipts or citations. All on top, of course, the regular stuff you'd expect a modern handheld computer to do, like email, browsing, data communication, texting, or apps that use accelerometer or GPS data.
What we have here, essentially, is standard Pocket PC/PDA guts in a much roomier ultra-mobile PC landscape-oriented form factor. But it's not conventional UMPC fare either. The display is still only 3.5 inches diagonal with Pocket PC standard 320 x 240 pixel QVGA resolution. And while UMPCs usually have some sort of modified QWERTY thumbtype keyboard along the bottom, the HANDGEAR has large function tabs on one side and a unique alphanumeric keypad with navigation diamond on the other. While the display has a touch screen, the idea seem for field staff to hold the device in both hands and operate it with their thumbs.
Overall, the HANDGEAR is just jam-packed with ideas that became features. Take photography: while PDAs have had cameras for many years, and almost every phone has one, most of those cameras are virtually useless. Not so what 2T packed into the HANDGEAR. Here you have a sophisticated 5.2mp CMOS sensor that takes 4-megapixel pictures you can actually use for real work (see examples here). The camera even has a very functional flash and the CMOS imager can be used to read bar codes (Code 128, Code 39, Code 2 of 5, EAN-13, PDF417, UPC and several more). Special development and application software is available for the camera.
And since field operatives may well encounter iffy situations on the job, the HANDGEAR has a special distress safety system with an integrated distress key and location-based automatic distress signaling. And the neck/shoulder strap is of the breakaway variety to guard against strangling attempts and such. Two Technologies went all out here to provide field workers with every conceivable safety feature.
Next there is an integrated compass and accelerometer that can be used to detect travel direction, absolute unit orientation, and potentially all the cool stuff the iPhone and iPad have been demonstrating in numerous apps.
The FasTap keypad is unique as well. Two Technologies named it as an industry first. There's a grid of white alpha keys, and then a keypad grid of blue numeric keys. We haven't had a hands-on with the device and can't say how well it works, but I am sure 2T put a lot of thought into it.
Like most Two Technologies hardware, the HANDGEAR is hugely expandable and configurable. It uses what 2T calls the HG Expansion PACK System, which is compatible with the company's Hydrus PACK interface and can be used to add standard and custom hardware including RFID, temperature probes, proprietary radios, meters and such. An example: the ID PACK, designed for law enforcement and security applications, includes a Biometric FIPS 201 compatible area fingerprint scanner, a 3 Track Magnetic Card Reader with API interface and a 13.56MHz RFID Interrogator. Which means you can can read credit cards, licenses, ID cards and more.
If hard copy is required, Two Technologies offers the HGP-3 printer (see spec sheet) that neatly snaps onto the HANDGEAR.
There is an integrated uBLOX 50-channel GPS that provides excellent accuracy and very good signal-to-noise-ratio performance. You also get 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth Class 2, and there's a choice of available WWAN technologies (CDMA, GPRS, UMTS / HSDPA / EDGE).
For power, dual rechargeable Li-Ion packs provide a combined capacity of 37 watt-hours—probably more than any other handheld and good for over 40 hours, supporting a wide variety of field applications through several shifts. The case is made of Xenoy, a resin developed by General Electric to provide chemical resistance, superior impact resistance even at low temperatures, and heat resistance under the worst of conditions.
The HANDGEAR, which weighs about 2.5 pounds with batteries installed, carries full IP67 sealing, where the "6" stands for total protection against dust penetration, and the "7" for protection against immersion in water. Add to that a 4-foot drop spec and an extremely wide operating temperature range from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and you have a machine that can operate practically anywhere.
Under the hood, the HANDGEAR uses field proven technology such as the 624MHz Marvell PXA270 chip, Microsoft Windows CE 6.0 Release 3, 256MB of RAM plus 4GB to 32GB of Flash storage.
Two Technologies offers four HANDGEAR models with different installed options, and the intended markets include public safety, field service, parking and military/DOD applications.
Two Technologies, headquartered in Horsham, PA, has been designing and manufacturing customizable, rugged handheld computer and terminal products for industrial and commercial applications for over 20 years. With over 400 GEM partners, 4,000 customers and over a million products in the field, their computers and terminals can be found in a multitude of different applications and fields.