Once occupying a very small portion of the electronics market, demand for rugged devices is growing at a rapid base. The US military was the early adopter of rugged devices, and today the military remains the one of the largest consumers of such devices.
Military personnel use rugged, wireless devices for recording and inspection of data, managing shipments, taking inventory of equipment and supplies, and supporting other operations. Many of the activities take place in remote locations including harsh surroundings, which raises the need for such specialized, ruggedized devices.
Rugged devices include computers, tablets, mobiles, tablets, laptops, notebooks, etc. They have become much more sophisticated and advanced in recent years, with functionality and design the two main reasons for their growth. Even for basic needs, it is becoming trendy to own a rugged computer.
The commercial market
The commercial market is the pace setter for the use of rugged devices across military applications. Military personnel see these devices used in different applications in the civilian environment; they are adapting them in similar ways.
With a reduction in prices, and the availability of different form factors, it is becoming easier to adapt such devices for defense-related functions. Rugged devices therefore are performing the same functions in the battlefield as they do in the civilian world.
For military applications, low power consumption, small size, and long-lasting functionality are some of the requisites when it comes to rugged devices. The data involved in military applications is also important, so devices must pass network security requirements and integrate with central systems.
Types of rugged devices
The benefit of having rugged devices is situational awareness, functionality, and versatility. Military personnel commonly use these devices for military applications:
Military standard computers provide valuable services to the enlisted men and women who deal with large amounts of information transmitted through sensors, ground vehicles, satellites, UAVs, and fellow personnel. Such information has to be integrated via rugged computers for accommodating the large amounts of data to troops in the battlefield.
A rugged computer chassis must be able to survive the trauma of repeating shipping to different corners of the earth. That is why rugged portable computer systems that have the flexibility to work anywhere like a high end desktop is the preferred choice for military personnel constantly on the move. Some of the features of such computers include aluminum alloy construction, spill-proof touchpads, I/O card retention, and removable, shock-mounted drive bays.
Rugged mobile devices
Rugged military smartphones are usually IP67 level certified, which means they are dustproof, shockproof and waterproof. A handset with this certification also means it can withstand high to low temperatures including salt fog, radiation, blowing rain and humidity. Android is mostly the operating system of choice in rugged military handsets, as it offers the most flexibility of adapting mobile applications to military functions.
Runbo X5 is an example of such a device; the handset is IP 67 level certified, and runs the Android operating system. You will also find other military-friendly features in this phone such as a laser pointer, and a walkie-talkie that allows communication up to 10 kilometers (without network signals). Mobile phones are preferred over tablets because of the need to stay mobile.
Rugged devices are getting closer to action more than ever. Eventually advancements and developments will lead to a pool of rugged devices for the military to choose from based on their preference and mission needs.