Rugged tablet computers ride the commercial wave, and come into their own among aerospace and defense users

Tablet computers built rugged enough for aerospace and defense applications have been around for decades, yet for much of that time have been considered somewhat of an oddity. Military computer users get it when the topic drifts to rugged laptop and portable computers, but tablets always have been primarily something someone else might be able to use.

Not so today. What's changing attitudes about rugged tablet computers in aerospace and defense circles are the ubiquitous Apple iPad, iPhone, and other smart phones with multi-touch screens that have become wildly popular since their introduction. Now the tablet computer is mainstream and no longer an oddity, and rugged computer manufacturers who serve the defense industry are making up for lost time.

"We feel good that we're in the rugged tablet business, because we see the market moving in our direction," says Bill Guyan, vice president of programs and strategy for rugged computer maker DRS Tactical Systems in Melbourne, Fla. "The tablet is an elegant way for people to stay connected and do their jobs." Guyan says DRS has seen brisk aerospace and defense business not only for the company's Military Rugged Tablet (MRT) computer, but also for its newly introduced industrial-rugged ARMOR line of tablet computers.

"Tablets are a hot topic right now because of what is going on in the consumer space," says Patrick White, vice president of strategic marketing at General Dynamics Itronix in Sunrise, Fla. "Tablets bring new software capabilities, finger gestures, and multi-touch capabilities that enable us to reduce the display size on tablet computers from seven or nine inches, and get the same functionality you get in a 12- or 13-inch display."

Interest in tablet computing in the military community mirrors interest in commercially available tablet computers and the rapidly growing universe of tablet and smart phone applications from Apple, as well as from open-source software developers working with the Linux-based Android mobile operating system.

Android is an open-source mobile operating system based upon the Linux kernel, and has a large community of developers writing application programs. More than 70,000 Android applications are available, which makes it one of the most popular mobile operating systems.

"The emergence of the iPad and iPhone are getting customers more familiar with the use of touch screens," says DRS's Guyan. "We have made tablets for more than 20 years, but there was always a preference for a keyboard interface. Now our military customers are getting more comfortable with touch screens and the multi-touch technology to expand or contract a picture and the other kinds of things you can do with an iPad."

Some rugged computer manufacturers caution military users against using consumer-grade devices in the field, even though these devices are seeing such widespread adoption.

"You have these guys climbing up into a C-5 [cargo jet], which is like climbing up several stories in a building," says Fed de Gastyne, business development manager for the federal team at Panasonic Solutions Co. in Secaucus, N.J. "My concern is please don't take anything up in the aircraft that is not MIL-STD-810G tested. With a consumer product, heat will kill it, and a drop will kill it. What does a mission failure cost? That's the bottom line.

Company listing

Amrel Computer Division; El Monte, Calif.; 626-443-6818; www.amrel.com/rugged-computers

Argon Corp.; Great Neck, N.Y.; 678-608-4930; www.argoncorp.com

Broadax Systems Inc.; City of Industry, Calif.; 626-964-2600; www.bsicomputer.com

Cyberchron Rugged Systems; Cold Springs, N.Y.; 845-265-3700; www.cyberchron.com

Dell Inc.; Round Rock, Texas; 800-915-3355; www.dell.com

DRS Tactical Systems; Melbourne, Fla.; 321-727-3672; www.drs-ts.com

Elbit Systems of America C4I Solutions; Tallahassee, Fla.; 850-350-8444; www.talla-tech.com

General Dynamics C4 Systems; Scottsdale, Ariz.; 480-441-3033; www.gdc4s.com

General Dynamics Itronix; Sunrise, Fla.; 954-846-3400; www.gd-itronix.com

Getac Inc.; Lake Forest, Calif.; 949-699-2888; www.getac.com

IBI Systems Inc.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; 954-978-9225; www.ibi-systems.com

Industrial Computing; Waltham, Mass.; 781-890-3111; www.industcomputing.com

Intel; Chandler, Ariz.; 480-554-8080; www.intel.com/go/military

Intermec Inc.; Everett, Wash.; 425-348-2600; www.intermec.com

LogIn Crete AB; Helsingborg, Sweden; +46 42 250000; www.login.se

MaxVision; Madison, Ala.; 800-533-5805; www.maxvision.com

NextComputing; Nashua, N.H.; 603-886-3874; www.nextcomputing.com

Panasonic Solutions Co.; Secaucus, N.J.; 888-223-1012; www.panasonic.com/toughbook

Roper Mobile Technology; Tempe, Ariz.; 480-705-4200; www.ropermobile.com

Rugged Notebooks Inc.; Anaheim, Calif.; 714-998-1828; www.ruggednotebooks.com

Rugged Portable Systems; Santa Ana, Calif.; 714-547-1174; www.rpseagle.com

Stealth Computer Corp.; Woodbridge, Ontario; 905-264-9000; www.stealthcomputer.com

TAG; Dulles, Va.; 703-406-3000; www.tag.com

Trimble Outdoor Computers; Sunnyvale, Calif.; 800-874-6253; www.trimble.com/Outdoor-Rugged-Computers

Two Technologies Inc.; Horsham, Pa.; 215-441-5305; www.2T.com


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XPand6020 | Small Form Factor (SFF) System Featuring XPedite5205 Running Cisco IOS® and XPedite7450

The XPand6020 is a Small Form Factor (SFF) system that features an XPedite5205, which runs Cisco ...

XChange3013 | 3U VPX Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3013 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX Ethernet switch module. The XChange3013 pr...

XPort6105 | XMC Secure 512 GB Solid-State Drive (SSD) with Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) Technology

The XPort6105 is a secure self-encrypting drive (SED) / Solid-State Drive (SSD) XMC module that p...

XPand3200 Series | Sub-½ ATR, Conduction-Cooled Systems Supporting Conduction-Cooled Modules

The XPand3200 Series redefines the limits of power, performance, and functionality in a sub-½ ATR...

XPm2222 | MIL-STD-704A/E/F and MIL-STD-1275D 28 VDC VITA 62.0 3U VPX Power Supply with MIL-STD-461F EMI Filtering

The XPm2222 is a VITA 62.0 form factor 3U VPX power supply. The XPm2222 takes in a MIL-STD-704A/E...

XChange3018 | 3U VPX 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3018 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch module. The XC...

XPedite7470 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI SBC

The XPedite7470 is a high-performance, low-power, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

XPand4200 Series | ½ ATR Lightweight Forced-Air-Cooled Chassis for Conduction-Cooled Modules

The XPand4200 Series redefines the limits of power, performance, and functionality in a sub-½ ATR...

XCalibur4444 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur4444 is a high-performance, multiprocessing, 6U VPX, single board computer that is id...

XPedite7472 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI SBC with SecureCOTS™

The XPedite7472 is a secure and high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

Related Companies

A-FLEX

Provides customized Printed Circuit Board fabrication in California. The entire process can be customized according t...

Velmex Inc

Manufactures linear and rotary motion-control positioning equipment for scientific, research, photonics, machining an...

TASC Technical & Assembly Services Corporation Electronic Equipment Manufacturing

Electronic Manufacturing sub-contractor. Circuit Board assembly, Cable Assembly, Wire Harness Assembly, Box Build Ass...

Dataforth Corp

Manufactures high-quality, signal conditioning, and data communications products for industrial markets. Products inc...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

DDC-I Inc

Offers complete solutions for embedded software developers with a focus on mission- and safety-critical applications....

Harris Corporation

Harris provides advanced, technology-based solutions that solve government and commercial customers' mission critical...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Crane Aerospace & Electronics

When failure is NOT an option...rely on Crane Aerospace & Electronics. We supply high-density, high-reliability c...

Aerospace Optics Inc

Aerospace Optics has long been recognized as an innovator in the aerospace industry. The company's VIVISUN line of ru...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE