Rugged tablet maker Motion Computing has created a way to ensure mobile devices connect almost anywhere

It’s not hard to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot to cover space in a business or home, but at an outdoor mine or remote construction site things get a bit dicier.

However, if you’re a maker of ruggedized tablets, like Motion Computing Inc., lack of broadband connectivity where users need it means the device is an expensive doorstop.

That’s why the Texas-based company has brought out two ruggedized hotspots that take signals from cellular networks for connectivity. Equipped with six antennas, the floor-standing (15 lb.) LINCWorks RDA can create an indoor or outdoor mesh network from Wi-Fi, Ethernet or cellular broadband connection. The LINCWorks VAN sits on top of a vehicle so creates a hotspot wherever it goes.

“Clients are buying our tablet devices and taking them into remote areas, and then saying they can’t get connected,” Scott Ball, manager of the company’s Canadian division, said in explaining why Motion has moved into the hotspot business.

“These devices are self-contained. You can throw them off a truck, turn on a key and they will start up a network for you.”

He was serious about tossing a unit from a truck: During a beta test one was blown off the roof of a building. It survived. “They’re expected to be in environments where they might get hit by plywood, things dropped on them. They’re out in the elements.”

Once the automatic configuration is finished, LINCWorks hotspots connect to any device with Wi-Fi.

An early user has been a Dallas commercial construction firm that used four RDAs while building a hospital. As a result managers could download plans and revisions without going to an office.

The $2,700 RDA can be powered by AC, a generator or solar panels. Optional direction antennas can be fixed on top of it to point to a cell tower to enhance reception.
In the future Motion hopes to add a satellite connection for broadband where cellular isn’t available. The $1,600 VAN needs a 110 or 220 volt DC converter, or, if used indoors, Power-over-Ethernet. Both are certified for the Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. networks. Both are available now through the company, which also hopes to sell them through resellers.

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