Tag: Hardware

Will Microsoft Make a Tablet Come Back?

Earlier this week all the tech blogs were ablaze with news about Microsoft Windows 8.  I personally read about 6 – 7 articles about their new operating system.  Before you get too excited, it’s not ready yet and will not be ready until some time next year (and I suspect later next year).  Yesterday Microsoft released a developer preview for software engineers to download and start playing around with.  By far the best article, and the one I agree with the most was entitled “Sorry Apple, Windows 8 ushers in the post-pc era“.  The author captured my exact feelings about the current state of tablets right now.  Good for certain tasks, not for others.

Good for Inspection Software

The current generation of tablets are great for tasks that are intended to be conducted in the field as well as casual computing and note taking.  Job site audits are a great example of a task that works great on a tablet device.  In general, inspections and quality assurance tasks are something that works very well with tablets.  That being said, wouldn’t it be great if you were using your tablet to run your safety inspection software and then you could have full PC functionality to work on that whitepaper or proposal?

Bad for Writing Essays

Have you ever tried to write a long document on a tablet computer such as the iPad?  It just isn’t that suitable for that type of task (in my opinion).  Sure, some people will argue that you can get a keyboard for it and some sort of app for Word documents, but it’s not ideal for power computing.  Let’s assume you could squeeze out a simple Word document.  How about running Photoshop?  Not happening.

What Windows 8 could (hopefully) represent is 1 platform to rule them all.  A great tablet user interface and a form factor that would allow me to run all of my full featured applications is something I would pay for in a heart beat.  It may be just what Microsoft needs to get back in the tablet game.

Barbecue Safety

As spring time floats us by and April showers are in the past the next natural step in the earth’s rotation around the sun is the summer solstice. As the earth’s axial tilt reaches its maximum 23° 26′ and the sun starts to reach its highest position in the sky only one thing creeps into my mind, its barbecue season in Toronto. So dust off that patio furniture, plop in that over sized umbrella, uncover your barbecue and make sure your barbecue is safe and ready.

Most propane barbecues are not dangerous but unfortunately propane accidents do happen, and I know this personally. Propane is a highly combustible hydrocarbon gas and proper safety measures should be followed.

Below is a list of How To’s and tips to keep your next family barbecue safe.

The Propane Education & Research Council and National Propane Gas Association have compiled a list of propane gas grill and cylinder safety tips:

Propane Grill Do’s:

  • – Follow all of the grill manufacturer’s instructions and keep written materials and manuals in a safe, accessible place.
  • – When not in use, make sure all grill burner controls are turned off and that the valve cylinder is closed.
  • – Keep grill covered when not in use. Make sure the grill is shut off and cooled off before covering.
  • – Always use or store cylinders outdoors in an upright, vertical position.
  • – When you fill or exchange your cylinder, have your supplier check for dents, damage, rust or leaks.
  • – Before lighting your propane gas grill burner, use a leak-detection solution to check all connections for tightness. A soapy solution around the valves and tubing can be an effective leak detector.
  • – If there is an uncontrollable release of gas or a fire, call the fire department immediately and move all people and pets away from the unit.
  • – If you experience difficulties in the operation of your gas grill, contact your local propane provider for service.

Propane Grill Don’ts:

  • – Do not smoke while handling the propane cylinder.
  • – Do not allow children to tamper or play with the cylinder or grill.
  • – Do not use, store or transport your cylinder where it would be exposed to high temperatures. (This includes storing spare cylinders under or near the grill.)

Installing & Connecting a Propane Tank to your Gas Grill

By following the proper steps and procedures this barbecue season can be the safest yet. So enjoy the sun, patio life and cold drinks. All the best from Field ID.

Source: Propane Education & Research Council and National Propane Gas Association

A new Breed of Rugged Mobile Handhelds? Introducing the Casio G'z One Commando

Did Casio just come out with future of rugged mobile hand held computers?  They are certainly pushing the boundaries with the G’z One Commando.  I am not sure about that name, but this hand held looks incredible.

Very Rugged

There have been smartphones in the past that claim to be rugged, but all too often this means they are heavy, slow and somewhat dated.  Not the G’zOne Commando, it definitely appears to have the rugged part down.  This device has a MIL-STD-810G rating which pretty much means that it can stand up to almost anything.  I am not sure if this is available in intrinsically safe environments.  Mashable made a great video of this device taking a beating.

Android

This hand held is running Android 2.2 with some customizations from Casio geared towards active people as well as the workforce that are in tough environments.  You will get the great user interface and speed of Android along with the ability to easily get your email and make phone calls.  For those who do not know Android is a smartphone operating system for phones and tablet devices made by Google.  There is currently not a Field ID application for Android, but we are really hoping to provide one sometime this year.   Android plus the GzOne Commando provide you with:

  • – GPS Mapping with Google Maps and Compass
  • – 3.6″ WVGA Touch Screen Display
  • – 5 mp Auto Focus Camera
  • – Pre-installed 8G microSD Card

Notably missing is NFC support, but hopefully this will be added in future as the technology matures. As much as we see Android taking over the commercial smartphone market, it has yet to really penetrate the rugged space. Hopefully the G’zOne Commando is a sign of things to come for safety inspections.

RFID in your Favourite TV Shows

Good morning Bloggers! As you all may now, I do very much enjoy my television time. It’s a great way for me to relax after a hard day’s work and keep my apartment from being a little too quiet. You would think that after a long day’s work, I would avoid thinking about things like safety compliance or RFID, I mean, I think about it everyday at work. To my surprise, this is not the case. I was sitting on my couch, watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory (I just started watching it recently, so please disregard the tardiness), when this scene came across:

Needless to say, I found myself smirking at the short skit. RFID to track your packing materials sounds rather excessive, but this is a great video for those of you who don’t quite understand how RFID tags work. Although the show presents  RFID as an excessive tracking system, they do demonstrate the amazing tracking capabilities of RFID. Maybe we don’t need to tag our clothes with RFID technology, but I think the lesson here is: if its important to you and you need to keep it accessible at all times, you should probably tag it with RFID.

The Future of Touchscreens for Mobile Inspection Devices

Imagine trying to do a safety inspection with safety gloves on with a small screen.  It’s really hard right now because the mobile device’s screen is either too small or not sensitive enough.

One of the biggest problems we hear about at Field ID is the ability to use gloves while using Field ID mobile.  Most of our users are in industrial rugged areas where they are using gloves to do work.  Some of our devices have a big enough screen to be able to work with gloves, but a lot of the smaller devices are extremely hard, if not impossible, to use gloves with.

I just read a great blog post about some of the new developments in touchscreen technology.  A company called Synaptics is developing new technology to allow touchscreens to be much more sensitive, even when using something like a glove or stylus.

Effective touchscreen usage with a glove

During a demo, they showed how even after stacking 10 business cards on top of screen, the newly enhanced screens could still detect touches.

This is great news for everyone conducting inspections and audits in the field using mobile devices!  Let’s hope this technology finds its way to mobile devices soon.

source: TechCrunch

Field ID: The Safety Compliance Support Team

Good morning Everyone! It is good to be back at work. I hope you are all well refreshed. Yesterday, we had an casual office conversation about calling a support team. It doesn’t matter which company you’re calling, it always seems like the moment you decide to get on the phone with someone and show them the problem, it starts working again. I’ve had many similar moments with every possible support technician I have ever called. From fixing my television, to calling Dell regarding some computer issues, a lot of times it seems like the moment I call them, the problem fixes itself.

If you think about it, this actually shouldn’t be a problem. If the problem fixes itself, then at very least the problem is fixed. Unfortunately, when this happens to me, I feel incredibly embarrassed. Have you ever said something like “See? See? Watch this, its not going to work. Oh wait….I guess it works now.” These experiences have left me afraid to call technical support, afraid that this would happen and I’d be left embarrassed and the technician would think I was stupid to call in the first place.

I was wrong. The truth is you cannot be afraid to ask for help. When it comes to safety compliance, you cannot be afraid of embarrassing yourself and not asking for help. It is much more important than fixing a television or figuring out a computer.  We are talking about the safety of others. We were taught that when something is too heavy, you have to ask someone for help or else you might hurt yourself. The situation is the same in any scenario, if you need help, don’t try to struggle by yourself and ask someone for assistance.

At Field ID, we fully understand that technology can sometimes play tricks on you.  When it comes to your workflow and the safety of others, it is better to ask for help and make sure that everything is working. Otherwise, time is wasted trying to fix something that our support team can probably help you with. We are trying to help improve safety inspection workflows to keep everyone safe. If you have questions to ask, please don’t be afraid to call our support team to ask us. Safety compliance is too important to be embarrassed about and it is very important to us that you are comfortable enough to speak your mind and tell us anything that you do not understand. We are glad to help, and if it happens to fix itself, we are still glad for the chat.

The Future of RFID and Safety – What the New Google Nexus S teaches us about High Frequency

RFID is an important part of our solution for many of our customers.  It allows people to immediately and digitally identify assets such as harnesses, slings, fire extinguishers, live line sticks, etc.  As you many know, there are a bunch of different RFID frequencies to choose from.  There is low, high and ultra high frequency.  Of course, at Field ID, we can use and have used any frequency – we are frequency agnostic.  But we have definitely chosen to promote high frequency amongst our customers and partners.  For example, MSA is using high frequency chips in all of their equipment.  However, other manufacturers use different frequencies.  We are always wondering if HF is the way to go.

Is High Frequency the way to go for RFID and Safety?

Google Nexus S

To answer this question, we need to look at the recent release of the Nexus S.  For those of you who don’t know, the Nexus S is the new phone being released by Google.  Here’s a description from Google:

Nexus S is the next generation of Nexus devices, co-developed by Google and Samsung. The latest Android platform (Gingerbread), paired with a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor and 16GB of memory, makes Nexus S one of the fastest phones on the market. It comes pre-installed with the best of Google apps and enabled with new and popular features like true multi-tasking, Wi-Fi hotspot, Internet Calling, NFC support, and full web browsing.

Why is this important?  Well, the new Nexus S supports NFC which stands for Near Field Communication.  Basically, the Nexus S will come with an RFID reader that will allow you to read RFID chips for payment purposes.  Think of using your phone to scan a movie poster to buy a movie ticket.

Bottom Line: Why is High Frequency the Right Choice?

NFC is a high frequency technology and is compatible with ISO15693.  High frequency is the technology that almost all of our partners and customers are using.  With smart phones coming out with high frequency RFID readers built in, high frequency definitely seems like the choice to make when thinking of embedding RFID into your products.

Coming soon, inspecting your RFID enabled assets with your smart phone and Field ID!

Let it Snow: Safety Compliance and the Weather

Good morning friends! I suppose I should mention that today, I am in quite the crabby mood. It’s really nothing personal, but the weather up in Toronto, Ontario has gotten severely unbearable. It’s about 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I think it might be just me, but I like to spend cold days curled up by a fireplace with a cup of warm cocoa and pretend like it’s just not happening. A cup of hot cocoa sure would be great right about now.  Never mind the fact that the amount of sugar in cocoa can probably drive me to super-productivity for about 15 minutes before collapsing on the floor. But my health and food choices are definitely not the topic of today’s blog (even though someday they may be).

Folks, the weather outside is terrible. But on the other hand, compared to London, Ontario, we actually don’t have it so bad. For those of you who don’t know, London was hit by a massive 100 cm of snow earlier this week. It was enough to practically shut down the whole city. There were over 300 accidents reported and people have been literally confined to their homes due to inability to travel. Although I wish every night that it would snow in Toronto, I have to admit 100cm is a little excessive.

How does this relate back to safety? Well, if you have ever experienced a snow storm like this, or tried to get your daily errands done in terrible weather, you actually might have something in common with safety inspectors. This type of weather really lets you get a feel for the different kinds of harsh environments they have to go through to perform their everyday duties. If you think about how hard it is to get around during bad weather, can you imagine how hard it is to be a safety inspector?

Safety inspections have to take place periodically and it has to be done rain or shine, literally. From high communication towers to mines to sewage systems, inspectors have to climb up and down these harsh environments to make sure that everything is functioning properly and that it is safe to use. And they don’t just get into the car, walk 5 meters to the grocery store, and then go home. They actually have to walk around in these conditions to conduct their inspections. Having to deal with bad weather once in a blue moon, is just another way that you can experience the hardships of being an inspector. But they do this everyday and most of them are still using pen and paper.

Imagine yourself in this snowstorm, and having to pull out a pen and paper to record information: Not only will your hands be freezing, but you also have to protect the paper from getting wet, and ruining all your information. If you drop your clipboard in a puddle of water, that’s it. You have to start all over. For those of you who aren’t in the safety compliance industry, this imaginary situation is exactly what it is like to rely on paper-based inspections in such a terrible environment. With inspection software and rugged devices, you don’t have to worry about dropping your device and you don’t have to worry about frostbites, you do your inspections with a stylus, “click, click ,click” and you’re done. No pen necessary and you get to keep your gloves on.

We should be extremely thankful that even in the worst of times, our inspectors are able to perform their daily duties and put their best foot forward. Next time you’re trying to walk around in a rain storm or in extremely cold weather, remember that these are the working conditions of the people who ensure our safety.

Your Best Reason to Why Inspection Software is Not For You

There are some moments in life, where you just look at someone else, and you can’t for the love of you, figure out WHY they would do what they are doing. I look down the street, to see one of my friends using a green-screen phone and I think to myself “Why are you STILL using a green screen phone when you can get a smartphone for almost no money these days?” It just doesn’t make sense. Then I spend hours personally being frazzled up over the issue. Sometimes, I would spend hours trying to convince them that it is the dumbest idea. True Story.

In a similar situation, I couldn’t for the love of me, understand why people still use paper to do safety inspections. It boggled my mind, until I finally discovered the most common and ultimate reason for why people refuse to switch to a paperless solution for safety inspections: “What we use right now, works for us.

Now we’re not here to say that paper doesn’t work. The green screen phone maybe missing some key functionalities but of course it still functions as a phone. It still dials in and out, it can show you who’s calling, and you can probably receive text messages too. But what are you missing out on? Maybe you’re missing out on wireless headsets, and with the new driving laws, you can’t phone anyone when you’re driving. Maybe you’re missing out on a QWERTY keyboard for text messaging that could save you time. Maybe its as simple as you’re missing out on a phone that could also function as a camera or a multimedia player. You never cared that you carried an MP3 player, a camera, and a phone all separately, but maybe it’s because you don’t realize that one smartphone can be all three devices.

Paper works, of course. I mean, safety compliance was still an issue 30 years ago, and they used paper. So it should function just fine. Paper (like a green screen phone) can also provide the basic functionalities: It can record the inspection and be filed in big filing cabinets for traceability. If you need to find a report, you would be able to, but it would take time. But also like a green screen phone, you have to ask: what are you missing out on?

Where a smart phone can save you time in providing you a QWERTY keyboard, safety inspection software can save you time by providing you with instant traceability. Any records can be instantly accessible through software, rather than spending hours in filing cabinets. Maybe you’re missing out on the mobility of safety inspection software and rugged devices; You can’t guarantee the safe return of a paper-based inspection checklist in a harsh environment. But you can have such a guarantee using a rugged device to perform inspections.

And finally, maybe it’s just as simple as missing out on some extra features of an inspection software that paper reports just don’t provide as an option. What if you actually needed to take a picture of a deficiency? You don’t want to have to carry a camera, take a picture, develop the film, then attach it to your paper-based report. Since the process is so long and difficult, maybe you don’t take any pictures. But since safety inspection mobile software can allow you to take pictures with your inspections, now pictures are a perfect new feature to add to your records.

So yes, paper may work for you. Maybe you don’t want to disrupt your current workflow. But have you ever wondered what the advantages of safety inspection software could provide? What exactly are you missing out on?

Win a Field ID Subscription and Smart Phone at the NSC

The National Safety Council Show in San Diego wraps up today so make sure you drop by the Field ID booth (5610) for a chance to win a Field ID Subscription and Smart Phone.

You can’t miss the booth – look for the hardwood floor with a basketball net. Shaun Ricci and Somen Mondal will be there to answer any of your questions about Field ID, Safety Compliance, inspection software and RFID. We have many handhelds on site for you to play with and different RFID and barcode options to see.

Shoot for your chance to win a Field ID Subscription and a Smart Phone

Can’t make it to the NSC but want to see a demo of Field ID? Request one here!