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For every company employing field workers, there's a workforce that might be more productive carrying a computing device. Yet purpose-built solutions from Motorola, Panasonic and others are often square-peg devices for the round hole of each company's applications and workflow. That's where Mobelisk fits in. The company this week released MoGo Chimera, the latest version of its ruggedized enclosure for off-the-shelf tablets that can be outfitted with needed peripherals and remain unburdened by those that are not.
With its unique system of electro-mechanical controls, the Mobelisk solution acts as a kind of abstraction layer, converting the hardware and operating system of choice into a durable, custom computing appliance that's resistant to shock, dust and even liquids. Current models support Apple iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7, and Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 and 8-inch Galaxy Note 8. Snap-on peripherals will include readers for magnetic cards, smartcards, barcodes, contactless devices, fingerprints and RFID, and for printing and boosting power and I/O. There also will be blank end caps for applications that require fewer than two peripherals.
Mobelisk started out developing its own ruggedized, purpose-built tablets for healthcare, retail and other verticals. "A seven-inch version was sold as Verizon's 'Blank Slate' device," said CEO Dennis Hamann. "That one had a mag-stripe card reader built in." But Hamann soon realized that competing in the market for specialized appliances required more than just having the perfect app. "We used to think that if you didn't have the latest hardware or software, it was OK because the app made the difference. But that wasn't true." Devices using older operating system versions of slower processors were at a marked disadvantage. "If you don't have the latest specs, you're [negatively] compared to competitors."
By focusing his company's intellectual property on the enclosure and what he referred to as the "transposer layer," Hamann has removed his company from the tablet wars. "We're no longer competing with Samsung and Apple; now we're complementary. Let those companies innovate and battle it out on the tech specs. We'll stay agnostic and support the resulting devices." Citing unspecified research, Hamann said that of the 7.8 million tablets purchased in the U.S. each year, 8 percent are destined for ruggedized-use markets, a number he said is estimated to reach 10 percent by 2016. Mobelisk has its main pillars in healthcare, retail, hospitality and financial services.