Change is constant…the pace of change is remarkable. Case in point, mobile GPS device manufacturer Garmin staked their claim to this arena and were truly the market leader. They flooded the market with new models almost every month to meet a storm surge of demand from consumers. Their share price went up and sales went through the roof – every car had a device on its dash. Then GPS enabled smart phones along loaded with Google Maps appeared and consumers were swept up in another frenzy leaving Garmin wondering what the heck happened. Change happened!
An interesting article titled “Phablets for the Shop Floor” by by Barry Lynch posted on the GE blog the Connected World caught my eye and got me thinking about change in general and mobile data collection and our journey down that road…
Here is a recap of that journey we took at Busitech as a mobile data collection appeared and grew in popularity, simplicity as well as becoming more cost effective for the shop floor.
Listening closely to our Quality Window user community over the years, we tried to match their need for mobile data collection with the technologies currently available. It was always a challenge to meet those demands with simple to use and cost effective solutions – in a world that moves so fast.
We first offered a custom solution on a device called a Datamyte Hand Held Data Collector – a wand like device that had a monochrome screen and rudimentary entry keys. It did the job but was not very user friendly and heavy to carry.
Next came the PocketPC, a Windows device running under Windows CE – we chose the PocketPC over the Palm Pilots – remember that one – because we were developers for the Windows environment. The product worked well, we were able to provide our intuitive colors and SPC methodologies to the collection process, and the days of the traditional clipboard were numbered!
TabletPCs evolved and the next step saw not just a collector capability but the a full working version of our software running on the tablets. The biggest issues with these tablets were price and weight – these tablets, especially when contained in their industrial cases to protect them, were heavy.
Then came the small Tablets (iPad, iPad Mini), the smart phones (iPhone/Android) and Phablets (large smart phones) and the world of “apps”. Everybody was rushing to create an iPhone App or an Android App and this created a real dilemma for us at Busitech – do we develop for the Apple platform and all its iterations or the Android operating system? Our choice was neither but both!
We decided to develop an HTML5 web-based application called QWCollector that would run on both platforms and virtually all web enabled devices that had a wireless or 3/4g capability. This decision drastically cut our development and support costs and provided the solution our customers were asking for and the platform did not matter. The customer gets to choose the device and with the way prices on these devices are going along with simple protectors, the world of mobile data collection will explode…just like it did with GPS devices!