March 18, 2014

Motorola introduces new modular mobile computer

By DC Velocity Staff

Motorola Solutions Inc. has added yet another rugged mobile computer to its portfolio of products: the Workabout Pro 4. The Workabout brand was originally developed by Psion, which Motorola purchased several years ago.

The new Workabout Pro 4 is good for voice picking, proof of delivery, and vehicle maintenance, among other applications. Businesses can choose the most appropriate data capture technology and voice-enabled applications for their workforces with new scan engine, RFID, camera, and voice modules for the Workabout Pro 4. The Workabout Pro 4 is the only mobile computer with modules capable of reading low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID tags, according to the company.

One of the benefits of the Workabout is this modularity, says Mark Wheeler, director of industry solutions and North America customer solutions for Motorola. Different modules, such as scanners and voice applications, can be added to the computer as the company's needs evolve and it has to upgrade or change its technology.

As Motorola continues to roll out new mobility products, it strives to stay apprised of growing trends in the distribution and warehouse space. Three trends that Wheeler is keeping an eye on include:

  • Wearables. More and more companies are interested in mobile computers that are worn on the worker's body as opposed to held in the hand. Motorola, for example, has several devices that are worn on the arm, around a finger (ring scanners), or as a badge. Wearables increase accuracy because workers don't have to take their eyes off the scanned item to put down the scanner or place it back in a holster.
  • Multimodal. Companies are increasingly adopting multimodal solutions—such as those that incorporate scanning technology, voice technology, and a screen—for use in the warehouse. Based on responses to its Warehouse Vision Survey, Motorola expects multimodal use to grow 142 percent in the next five years.
  • RFID. Warehouses and distribution centers are finally beginning to embrace the use of RFID inside their operations, particularly to track and manage their assets, such as pallets, totes, and containers.

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