Smartphone-based Bar-Code and RFID Scanning Offers Flexible, Affordable and Efficient Solutions for Asset Management and Mobile Data Capture

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Convergence. It has become almost cliché in the world of technology, but it is changing the way people work and business gets done. In asset tracking, the evolution in mobile data capture empowered companies to identify, monitor and manage their products and resources like never before. Many of these companies, however, still rely heavily on dedicated, single-function scanning devices they’ve been using for decades. But thanks to growing convergence between this technology and the world of mobile communications, change is afoot. Smartphones – pocket-sized, multi-function computers and communication tools – are today serving as the new hubs for mobile data capture.

Today’s off-the-shelf mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, can serve as the processing and transmission hubs when paired with simple, cost-effective scanning software or hardware. Why would this be better suited than a dedicated, stand-alone scanning device? For starters, mobile devices are becoming faster and more powerful all the time, with faster processing, frequent software updates and applications like AR tracking. Mobile devices are also ubiquitous – people are already carrying them. They are intuitive, easy to use, always connected and help blend the physical and digital world around us. Perhaps the final tipping point is the recent creation of ruggedized smartphones like those from Kyocera, which offer consumer-tier price points and Military Standard 810G certifications for protection against threats commonly found in retail and logistics environments like shock, dust, water, vibration and more.

Off-the-shelf smartphones, however, are not the answer by themselves. That’s why Kyocera partners with industry-leading mobile scanning companies to provide a range of turnkey data-capture solutions. Every business is different, and so are those businesses’ data-capture needs and that’s why Kyocera works with multiple partners to create choices in selecting the right solutions.  For example, technology and software from Scandit can be loaded onto a Kyocera smartphone to leverage the phone’s camera as an in credibly cost-efficient, enterprise-grade barcode scanner. Meanwhile, Koamtac takes a hardware-based approach, building miniature Bluetooth companion scanners and functional, ergonomic scanning sleds – many of which are ruggedized – that fit smartphones like the Kyocera DuraForce PRO. Along with high-performance scanning of 1D or 2D Barcodes, Koamtac offers optional features including RFID, MSR Card, or Smartcard reading.

Finding the right mobile scanning software solution

If you are considering a switch to a smartphone-based data-capture solution, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What type of scanning will your workers be doing? Are you focused on warehouse scanning, worker location and verification, delivery, etc.?
  2. What type of scans do you want? 1D? 2D? 3D? RFID? Others?
  3. From what distance will workers be scanning?
  4. How many scans will workers be doing per hour or day?

These questions will help narrow down the scanning solution that best fits your business’ needs.

The business benefits of switching to mobile devices with scanning software

Now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of retiring your dedicated, self-contained scanners and switching to a mobile device like the Kyocera DuraForce PRO with add-on data-scanning capabilities, whether software- or hardware-based. We’ve outlined some of the key reasons and consideration sets in making the switch below:

Mobile devices offer more functionality than purpose-built, stand-alone scanners

While add-on solutions from companies like Scandit and Koamtac provide top-of-the-line scanning capabilities, mobile devices like the Kyocera DuraForce PRO simultaneously provide access to other business-critical applications, such as phone calls, messaging, Internet, time management, Push-to-Talk (PTT) communication, GPS, email and more. These smartphone “scanners” can also run custom business apps – from time tracking to inventory management and more – to make the devices significantly more valuable in the workplace. Kyocera’s DuraForce PRO runs on the ubiquitous Android operating system, the world’s largest ecosystem for mobile business software, making tailored software provisioning and updates easy and seamless with virtually no downtime.

Evolution of smartphone cameras

While a sled or other scanning hardware accessories can offer excellent ergonomics and support numerous data formats (e.g., bar codes, RFID, SmartCards, etc.), the evolution of camera technologies on smartphones can make them a simple, affordable solution for optical scanning.  For example, software like Scandit’s pairs with DuraForce PRO’s built-in 13-megapixel camera to enable scanning even in the toughest environments, like warehouses and packaging facilities. The phone’s additional Super-Wide-View HD Action Camera also comes in handy to document projects and deliveries in video.

Built in durability from the inside out, no protective case required

Whether used on their own or as part of a sled-based solution, rugged smartphones like Kyocera’s are designed to withstand high-intensity environments where drops and shocks are likely to occur. For outdoor jobsites, they offer protection from liquids, dust and extreme temperatures. And for work in Hazardous Locations where flammable gasses may exist, the Kyocera DuraForce PRO is rated Non-incendive Class I, Division 2, Group A-D, T4.

Long battery life works through a full shift and more

For a smartphone-based solution to make it through a full shift or even a full day, substantial battery life is a necessity.  The Kyocera DuraForce PRO comes with a powerful 3,240 mAh battery that can be charged wirelessly or more quickly with a wired connection because of its support for QUALCOMM Quick Charge 2.0 technology. For larger-scale implementations, there is even an optional multi-bay charger accessory available for charging a fleet of devices at the same time.

Extra-loud speakers and noise cancellation

Smartphone-based scanning solutions are also communication tools.  For potentially noisy environments like warehouses and distribution centers, the DuraForce PRO includes dual front speakers that can generate volume above 100dB. Combined with noise-canceling microphone technology, this enables phone calls and walkie-talkie-style push-to-talk conversations between workers in even the loudest settings.

Enhanced scanning connectivity

Once data is captured – whether via software- or hardware-based solutions – it needs to be shared with the business network.  With a smartphone-based solution, there’s no need for docks or wires to synchronize that data. DuraForce PRO comes with Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and Wi-Fi for adding scanning connectivity on the front end. Then, for transmission of that data to the network, includes not only ubiquitous 4G LTE cellular data connectivity, but also enterprise-grade Wi-Fi® with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/i/r/k, 2.4 and 5GHz and Wi-Fi Direct for maximum flexibility and connectivity options on the LAN.

Competitive price point and low TCO

When choosing a rugged mobile device as the hub for a mobile data scanning solution, not all devices are the same. DuraForce PRO is roughly half the cost of many other rugged devices and, even when a scanning sled is added to the solution, can still cost substantially less than purpose-built, single-function scanners.  Its built-in ruggedization eliminates the need for costly protective cases and its durability means less downtime and lower replacement costs. Analyst firm VDC Research compared Kyocera’s rugged smartphones to non-ruggedized phones in the workplace and found that those using rugged devices saved an average of 46 percent on their total cost of ownership (TCO).

To learn more about Kyocera rugged devices, please visit www.kyoceramobile.com or follow us on Twitter (@KyoceraMobile), Facebook and LinkedIn.

SUNSET OLIVE OIL COMPANY TURNS TO KYOCERA FOR INSTANT RUGGEDIZED COMMUNICATIONS

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OVERVIEW
For more than a century, Pompeian, Inc. has manufactured the nation’s leading olive oils, wine vinegars and cooking wines out of Baltimore, Maryland. The company recently announced an expansion with the introduction of sister company Sunset Olive Oil in Montebello, California. Sunset Olive Oil has become established and nationally renowned for its branded and private-labeled products.  As the company continues to grow, it has placed cutting-edge technology at the forefront of its business operations in order to improve communications and efficiency across its expansive production site.

THE CHALLENGE
Long before joining forces with Pompeian, Sunset Olive Oil began relying on rugged Kyocera devices with push-to-talk service to provide nearly all of its employees with mobile connectivity. Opting for rugged Kyocera flip phones in the early years, Sunset Olive Oil recently upgraded its team to Kyocera’s newest Android-based smartphone, the rugged DuraForce PRO, choosing the device based on its durability and push-to-talk (PTT) features. Two-way communications are extremely important in the olive-oil-production business, and PTT facilitates seamless individual or group communication between management, supervisors and their staff on a daily basis, enabling the transmission of important, timely information about schedules and work-flow changes. The staff utilizes an Push-to-Talk service on the Kyocera phones, which allows reliable connectivity over 4G LTE or the company’s Wi-Fi network. The DuraForce PRO’s large, dedicated PTT side key and 100+dB dual front speakers make it easy to communicate and stay connected even in noisy environments.

With internal and external work facilities that collaborate on the management of olive oil production and bottling at their plant, Sunset Olive Oil’s managers knew they needed a durable, reliable phone that could withstand hazardous environments. Within that fast-paced environment, it is common for workers to drop their phones on the concrete shop floors. In the past, workers trying to use non-rugged devices often suffered damaged screens and broken phones due to falls and accidental drops. The company needed a durable and rugged solution, and DuraForce PRO fit the bill with its Military Standard 810G protection against shock, vibration, temperature extremes, humidity and more; waterproof IP68 certification (up to 30 minutes in up to 6.5 feet of water); and non-incendive Class I, Division 2 protection for use in hazardous locations with some exposure to flammable gas, vapors or mists. At the same time, many of the Sunset Olive Oil production staff wear gloves, so it was important to have a device on which the touchscreen would still work while wearing gloves or when the screen was wet. With Glove and Wet Touchscreen Operation and tactile hard keys for navigation, the DuraForce PRO helped workers save time and stay efficient, keeping their hands safe from the elements and enabling them to do important work – making calls, checking messages and texts, and using PTT and other key features – without removing their gloves.

THE SOLUTION AND ITS BENEFITS
“The Kyocera DuraForce PRO is extremely durable on the manufacturing floor and provides instant, reliable communications among our staff when using the push-to-talk application and side-button on the phone,” said Sheila Thompson, Operational and Shipping Lead at Sunset Olive Oil. Today, the Kyocera DuraForce PRO is the official company phone at Sunset Olive Oil. For the company it means easy, efficient communications, while for employees it means not having to jeopardize personal, non-rugged phones in the challenging industrial environment. Choosing a rugged solution that enables key features like PTT, protection against hazardous environments and Glove and Wet Touchscreen Operation has made the lives and jobs of Sunset Olive Oil employees easier, safer and more efficient.

Kyocera’s Rugged Mobility for the Connected Truck Driver on Display at the Great American Trucking Show

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Trucking and transportation professionals share a passion for being on the road—all 3.5 million of them in the United States alone. That’s a lot of drivers, a lot of hours and a lot of miles, all requiring a lot of focus from the trucking community. While our primary mission at Kyocera is to provide these drivers with the best rugged mobile devices on the market, it is equally important for us to help ensure their safety by minimizing distractions, providing easy and simple communication links with dispatch, and enabling the ability to stay connected with family on long hauls. Road safety is critical to delivering on this goal, and Kyocera is committed to making life as safe as possible for the “Connected Truck Driver.”

It is for these very reasons you’ll find Kyocera at The Great American Trucking Show (GATS) August 24-26, 2017, at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. GATS is an interactive and all-encompassing public convention of trucking professionals that attracts more than 500 exhibitors, representing truck, trailer, engine, component and parts manufacturers, among many others. It exists to create an interactive, energizing environment entirely focused on improving the trucking industry—a perfect fit for the Kyocera rugged phone lineup.

During GATS, Kyocera will be exhibiting (booth #11047) and showcasing our rugged lineup, proven to continuously operate in harsh environments where truckers may experience extreme heat and cold, rain, dust or continuous vibration while on the road. Our latest rugged Android device, the Kyocera DuraForce PRO, can perform as the device hub for meeting the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate by downloading a compliant “Hours of Service” application from the Google Play store. At the same time, using compatible hands-free accessories will help with continuous connectivity without distraction and provide safety for drivers. Kyocera is working particularly closely with two partners during the show, including AdvanceTec – a global leader in the design and manufacturing of communications products and solutions for the wireless telecom, two-way radio industry – and TA/Petro Travel Centers, which will also be selling Kyocera’s DuraForce PRO and DuraXV+ (a rugged flip phone) from its booth (#15022) on the show floor.

Showcased in Kyocera’s booth will be AdvanceTec’s Pro-Installed Hands-Free Car Kit and a demonstration of a remote, low-energy Bluetooth Push-to-Talk (PTT) button that can mount on a steering wheel or dashboard to facilitate easy two-way radio communication. Push-to-Talk is a service option for cellular phone networks that enables subscribers to use their phones like walkie-talkies between individuals or groups, all with virtually unlimited range, which is necessary when driving the distance. Meanwhile, the AdvanceTec kit includes a wireless charging cradle, an external speaker that improves sound quality, and, with an optional Palm Mic, allows drivers to use PTT like they use CB radios.

If you plan on attending the show, please stop by our booth (#11047), where Kyocera will be offering special discounts on all of our Connected Truck Driver accessories. Our rugged device lineup is now available in all major cellular carriers. For more information about Kyocera, please visit http://www.kyoceramobile.com/business/ or follow us on our social-media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube).

Kyocera Joins Fire Departments, K9 Units and Special Forces at Blueforce Field Day

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From dogs to drones to DuraForce PROs, the Blueforce Field Day—a half-day site exploitation event in June held in Fayetteville, North Carolina—was both entertaining and educational. Blueforce Development Corporation hosts this bi-annual field day with its top partners in order to showcase the power of multi-sensor fusion and how technology can overcome the limitations of detection threshold and vulnerabilities, enable real-time awareness and analytics, and gather information for everything from environmental sampling to physiological monitoring to hazard detection.

The Blueforce Development product platform served as the command center for the day, collecting data from the various demo scenarios, from unmanned vehicles including drones, to K9-mounted cameras, gas sensors and off-leash tracking, to ad hoc unattended ground sensors.

During the event, the Kyocera DuraForce PRO was used in each demonstration scenario as the mini computer combined with specialized communications platforms to include commercial LTE, tactical LTE, mobile ad-hoc networks, and satellite communications allowing for secure sharing of sensor data, pictures, messaging and other collaborative data between mobile users, as well as the command post. Ecosystem partners such as Scott Safety, which provided the Scott Patriot 5510 PAPR/SCBA for CBRN hazard detection and mitigation, and Mission Mobility, which provided the backend portable, scalable network, played a vital role in enabling the demos. Customer attendees, who included military, Special Forces, K9 divisions and fire department representatives, were impressed with the durability, connectivity and power of DuraForce PRO over the course of the day. The solution targets military, Special Forces, and law enforcement tactical defense operations.

During the intensive half day of hands-on field scenarios, DuraForce PRO remained unscathed, with impressive little battery life consumption. DuraForce PRO was used in all scenarios, including weather sensing; K9 remote set-up; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attack mitigation and personal protection; and remotely controlled unattended ground sensors for environmental and imagery data.

Blueforce and Kyocera have been partnering for many years to enable Kyocera rugged smartphones to be motion and acoustic sensors for both underground and unattended sensor scenarios. With slim, affordable and truly rugged devices like the DuraForce PRO, Blueforce can leverage the capabilities of built-in Kyocera smartphones’ accelerometer, gyroscope and microphone sensors for detecting motion, vibration and sound, presenting great opportunity for unattended surveillance. Rapid network formation allows cueing and alerts from a wide variety of sensors, and sharing real-time awareness and analytics greatly shortens decision cycles and allows team members to anticipate friendly and enemy actions.

This year’s Blueforce Field Day showed a sampling of what is possible with the Blueforce Development product platform when coupled with Kyocera’s rugged mobile devices. The future for Blueforce and Kyocera looks very promising, enabling new underground monitoring and sensor solutions to make all of us safer. For more information on the Blueforce and Kyocera collaboration, check out our blog from November 2016 about affordable mobile counterterrorism applications.

Kyocera and Visual Labs Team Up at the National Sheriffs’ Conference

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Public-safety workers, particularly sheriffs and police officers, face some of the most stressful job situations and unpredictable environmental conditions known to man. It’s for this very reason that our team at Kyocera designs our rugged product lineup with public-safety workers in mind. Whether an officer is involved in a high-speed chase or monitoring a riot, we design mobile devices that can withstand virtually any obstacle or challenge. We also partner with software solution providers, like Visual Labs, to integrate industry-specific technologies into our devices that assist with increased productivity and reduced costs for taxpayers.

Next week, we are heading to the 2017 National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference and Exhibition (NSA) in Reno, Nevada, alongside our partner, Visual Labs, to show off the latest and greatest in body-worn camera technologies running on the Kyocera DuraForce PRO ruggedized smartphone. The NSA Annual Conference and Exhibition, which runs June 23-28, is one of the largest of its kind and displays products and equipment relevant to every facet of police work, jails, prisoner transport, and courtroom security. In addition to the Expo, the NSA also hosts more than 60 seminars and workshops covering all aspects of the duties and responsibilities for sheriffs’ offices, including law enforcement, jail operations, service of process, transportation of prisoners, and court and judicial security.

Visual Labs will have a booth at the Expo (booth #914) to showcase its body-worn camera technologies, which have become increasingly important given today’s rise in scrutiny over law enforcement’s use of force. Given Kyocera’s legacy is in creating durable, rugged and cost-efficient mobile devices, we are the perfect hardware solution for sheriffs’ departments across the country. Kyocera will also have a dunk tank in Visual Labs’ booth to show first-hand just how tough our devices are—the DuraForce PRO is built with certifications to IP68 and is waterproof up to 30 minutes, up to 2 meters deep.

In addition to the booth at the Expo, Kyocera’s Dr. Muzib Khan, General Manager, Kyocera Business Center, will be participating in a presentation with Alex Popof, Visual Labs’ CEO, entitled, “What You Need to Know About Body-Worn Camera Technology.” The presentation will be held Sunday, June 25, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in room A13, and will focus on how to use new technologies to enhance officer safety and increase operating efficiencies. The discussion will also touch on the latest trends and technological innovations with body cameras, including advances in both hardware and software; officer safety features such as situational awareness via live streaming and positional awareness via GPS/Cellular Triangulation; and video geo-location, which is the ability to display maps that simultaneously correspond with body camera footage, and the ability to search for videos geographically.

If you plan on attending the 2017 NSA Annual Conference and Expo, please stop by the Visual Labs booth (Booth #914), and attend our collaborative presentation on Sunday, June 25. You can also learn more about our lineup of rugged devices or follow us on Twitter (@KyoceraMobile) and LinkedIn (Kyocera International- Communications Equipment Group).