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Analytics Border Controls & Security Case Studies Enterprise Mobility Government ID & Authentication SMART IOT Uncategorized

The Future of Smart Digital Signage

Information has been the basis for all commerce and what better than massively lit up digital displays to deliver a message. Catalogues, restaurant menus, weather, advertisements, wayfinding, videos are different types of screen content that are now deployed digitally through all sizes and formats. The biggest users have been malls, entertainment zones and event arenas though other establishments such as hospitals, transport sectors or banks are now using them extensively. From simple static images to dynamic visuals, signages are either replacing or enhancing customer-facing roles.

The drive for customer experience has pushed the frontiers of display technology to significant heights: A market that is expected to grow consistently and cross 20 Billion USD by 2020 across a variety of technologies from projection and e-paper to LED/LCDs.

Interactive displays are increasingly having their presence felt with touch screens leading the way. Other ways to interact could be by presenting a visual code such as QR or using  NFC/RF-enabled cards or devices.

Leading the way in the next generation of Smart Digital Signages will be context-aware technologies that use sensors, cameras or beacons to present relevant information to the target audience at the right time. Add capabilities such as screen zoning, scheduled campaign management and support for multimedia formats with AI-enhanced analytics. We now expect smart digital signages to be at the forefront of enhancing customer experience and influencing consumer behaviour across industry verticals.

We have analytics platforms today that can combine the above features with the power of wifi to deliver an extensive range of operational benefits and drive situational and contextual marketing campaigns. The power of digital is now stronger than ever before, providing a much needed boost in the arm for retailers everywhere.

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The Smart Concierge Service

The solution is developed as part of an enhancement plan by the Airport Duty Free, in one of the business class lounges. The project aims at improving the experience and adding a personal touch to the service offered at an individual level to the business class passengers. The passenger upon entering the concierge counter is greeted and assisted by a shopping assistant. The desired Duty Free products can be selected from a digital menu displayed at the concierge counter.Once the selection is done, The passenger is provided with a smart tag and can go anywhere in the lounge without worrying about additional efforts.

The passenger selection is forwarded to the online shopping department, who in turn forwards the request to the pickers. The pickers collect all the items from the Duty Free Stores and deliver to the concierge counters at the lounge. The concierge service locates the passenger by tracking the tags earlier provided. Payment is processed at the endpoint, after the delivery is carried out. Our Location services facilitate pinpointing up to the last point where the passenger is seated. The whole operation staring from product selection to delivery is carried out within 90 minutes and is expected to improve as the process is streamlined.

The Location identification is provided by triangulating the location of the BLE tags provided to the customer using BLE gateways placed at various positions within the lounge. The signal data is send to a central server based architecture in which the triangulation algorithm resides. The result of the calculations done by the server based program is provided through an SDK that is incorporated into the concierge service application. The application provides the data with a latency of 3 minutes if passenger(in-turn the tag representing the passenger) is in motion.

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KYC in Passenger Baggage Security & Inspection

Border controls are measures taken by a country or a bloc of countries to regulate and monitor its borders. Border controls are put in place to regulate the movement of people, animals and goods into as well as out of a country.
Border control agencies are front line in the protection of their national borders. They control the application of rules and regulations relating to the entry and exit of goods from the state.A rise in international travel and trade has made it increasingly complex for government agencies to regulate borders.
Clearance of some customs transactions may require prior communication and coordination with government ministries, local authorities and other relevant   entities. This is true particularly with regards to restricted items which necessitate formal approval before being allowed entry to the country.

 

Verbal, written or electronic declaration or passage through the green or red channels shall be regarded as a customs declaration by the passenger. Inspection of passengers` personal belongings and the procedures for their confiscation and collection of payable customs duties or exemption thereof shall take place according to local Customs rules and regulations. In all cases, customs officers have the absolute right to inspect any passenger’s luggage or cargo at the time of exit.

 

Every passenger can be requested to submit his or her possessions for inspection even if they pass through the green channel. This additional process could take several minutes depending on the nature, background, time of day, flight details etc.With the implementation of the new Desko Penta scanner, we see a reduction in processing time to less than 2 mins from a passenger perspective.Every passenger’s submission of their passport and boarding pass during inspection of their goods is processed in less than 30 seconds with the Penta scanner as it captures the data and sends it through to the respective Customs system. Data capture and document verification are swift and error-free, which makes the journey through customs more comfortable and secure for both the passenger and the authorities.

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Improving HR operations with Desko Penta scanner

HR Department of a Dubai-based holding company manages more than 2000 employees. Most of them are based in / operating from Dubai. The work force is diverse with multiple nationalities.
The passport, visa or ID card of an employee needs to be checked several times within the organization. From the employee onboarding process, to data updates in their HRMS and for the PR department,employee data is gathered and processed frequently.Hardware based scanning and reading is sometimes insufficient.

To help the HR department, Desko Penta scanner was deployed and integrated in their HR application.
Any ID document (Passport, EID, Health Insurance Card etc.) can now be scanned and data captured automatically into their HR Application. The document image will be saved automatically into the employee’s file. Smart Card Reader is also installed to read contact chip on cards like EID Card, GCC ID Card etc

We work together with leading security software companies around the globe to offer the latest and most effective ID document authentication package. Our hardware and software together qualify for even the toughest challenges of ID document authentication. All information can be stored for further processing or later proof of compliance with in-house regulations and legal requirements.

Benefits:

Expedite Employee Enrollment / Update process
Reduce Processing Time
Efficient data collection, ID verification, information capture for quicker processing
Help combat fraud, comply with legal requirements

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RF Technologies in today’s digital world

IOT has been the hottest topic in the technology arena for a long time now. Even though the concept was introduced a while ago, only recently we have seen a surge in technology adoptions followed by many companies in their run up to bridge the gap between the digital and real worlds. In any of such implementations, one thing in common will be the adoption of an RF technology to facilitate easy data transfer. It is often a topic of debate among vendors that one RF technology is better than the other. As a matter of fact there are certain properties of one RF signal that helps it stand out from the others for a particular application. Let’s put forward the general idea about what are the technologies being offered by vendors in terms of properties, hardware, advantages & disadvantages at a vendor-neutral stand point.

Below table is a reference matrix for a quick evaluation of various aspects of each technology.

BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy) :  Initially introduced as Bluetooth Smart, BLE is one of the most adapted technologies in order to facilitate connectivity. Unlike Bluetooth 2.0 EDR or Bluetooth 3.0 HS with higher data rate functionality, BLE(A subset of bluetooth specification 4.0) targets effective communication with devices that do not need streaming data or high data throughput. The BLE specification effectively imposes 2 types of devices:  a dual mode device(eg. smart phone) which can support BLE in addition to the classic bluetooth protocol and a single mode device(beacon), which supports only BLE protocol.

Due to the widespread use of bluetooth transceivers in modern devices, majority of the enterprise devices are BLE ready. Therefore, the technology adoption and communication become seamless and cost effective. They deliver granular-level visibility for individual package delivery and asset management, as well as a more comprehensive end-to-end monitoring solution indoors, outdoors or in-transit.

BLE implementations usually have a single mode device called a beacon that continuously advertises low energy signals. Beacons are low-cost, low-powered transmitters equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE that can be used to deliver proximity-based, context-aware messages or perform location analytics. A beacon doesn’t really transmit content, it simply transmits a signal advertising) that lets a user’s phone or a BLE gateway figure out its proximity to the beacon. When a relevant app recognizes a beacon signal, a predefined ‘action’ is triggered via the app, to the user’s mobile device.

Even though a BLE solution can provide a lot of benefits in terms of functionality and ease of integration, there are certain challenges that need to be considered. Since the technology requires installation of battery powered beacons, the maintenance can become a tedious activity. Asthe location service with BLE highly relies on the RSSI of the RF signal, the accuracy will be between 1 – 3 meters. The cost of the beacon is higher than a regular passive RFID. However, a BLE project will be cost effective if deployed in a large premise with a sizeable number of beacons.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • Most of the smart devices are Bluetooth ready which enables easier BLE implementation
  • Lower Energy utilization reduces battery consumption.
  • Provides Granularity in visibility.
  • Enables real time operation with low packet transfer.

Cons

  • Maintenance of a lager beacon deployment is difficult.
  • Location tracking can have a deviation of 1 – 3 meters from actual position.
  • Need to have a large deployment to be cost effective.
  • Additional receiver(Gateway) is required for applications like tracking.

WIFI(Wireless Fidelity)

WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide network connectivity. A WiFi connection is established using a wireless adapter to create hotspots – areas in the vicinity of a wireless router that are connected to the network and allow users to access internet services. Once configured, WiFi provides wireless connectivity to your devices by emitting frequencies between 2.4GHz – 5GHz, based on the amount of data on the network.

Inside buildings, Wi-Fi is a good alternative to GPS, which is not available indoors. In most cases it is easy to install a Wi-Fi positioning system (WPS) as Wi-Fi access points already exist in many buildings. The advantage is that for say existing cash register systems, public hotspots and access points of shops or exhibitors can be used. The user doesn’t necessarily have to connect with the Wi-Fi, it is sufficient to be Wi-Fi enabled.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • No additional hardware required (Existing APs can be utilized)
  • No additional power source required.
  • Wifi is an essential requirement for all users ensuring more connected devices
  • Ranges farther that BLE at an average of 100 – 250 meters

Cons –

  • Wifi data rates and through put is higher making it slower than BLE.
  • Provides a zonal visibility than a granular approach.
  • Defines the proximity of a connected device to a range of 5 – 15 meters.

RFID(Radio Frequency IDentification)

RFID systems involve an RFID tag(effectively a transponder) that sends data to reader. The average range of a passive RFID tag is 0.5 meters to 3 meters. Passive tags or transponders receive the energy to transmit their information (at frequencies between 866 MHz to 868 MHz) from the radiation field of the reader. Due to these reasons, Passive RFID is not a good option for location services. While using passive RFID, a reader needs to capture the data at a close proximity of the tag which is not ideal to identify the location and track items or people in real time. Passive RFID is best for asset tracking and keeping inventory that does not need a real-time monitoring of movement.

Unlike Passive RFID, Active RFID has a longer range and does not need a reader to intimate the tag to send signal. Active RFID, as the name suggests stays active using a battery powered chip. Therefore, data will be available in real time for a reader to gather and update a back-end system for location services and tracking. So-called active transponders, which have their own power supply, theoretically even reach transmitter ranges in the kilometer range. However, the unit price of the transponders increases considerably. This also makes the transponder considerably larger.

RFID alone is only partially or rarely suitable for the implementation of location-based services. A major disadvantage is the rather small range, but above all, the fact that although it is possible to identify whether an RFID tag is in reader A or B, the path in between cannot be detected. However, it is precisely this information that is necessary for the optimization of logistical processes. Therefore, passive RFID by itself in not best suited for flexible positioning or even indoor navigation. However, combining passive RFID with beacon technology is optimal for warehousing processes and eliminates most of the disadvantages.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • Passive tags are cost effective.
  • Passive RFID Tags do not require a power source.

Cons –

  • Active tags are costly and bigger is size.
  • Passive RFID cannot provide a real time update of assets.
  • Not ideal for people tracking due to interference.
  • Read range is less – about 0.5 – 3.0 meters.

UWB(Ultra Wide Band)

The UWB spectrum was opened for commercial use in 2005 by the FCC for pulse-based transmission in the 3.1 to 10.6 GHz frequency range. Applications target sensor data collection, precision locating and tracking applications which is the focus here.

With UWB, we measure the time it takes for the signal to travel from transmitter to receiver in order to calculate the distance in centimeters. This method gives much better distance information than determining distance based on signal strength with beacons.

The apps can receive precise location data (less than 20 cm deviation) and location updates can be delivered every 100 ms if necessary. A user will carry a small UWB tag to monitor their exact location. The tag is equipped with a UWB transmitter and can feed of the phone’s USB port or a coin-size battery with a 1 year life. It sends out a ping signal via UWB for every location update and is also equipped with an acceleration-meter which will keep it at rest if it is not moving.

UWB involves the use of a Tag similar to a BLE beacon and an anchor equivalent to a BLE Gateway. Though UWB can be used to track the location to a more precise level than the BLE, additional hardware need to be attached to the smart phone devices in case of an application centric architecture. Since the Smart phones are not pre-equipped with UWB receiver, the additional hardware will help the application in accessing Tag information directly.

Pros & Cons of BLE

Pros –

  • UWB can provide centimeter level accuracy
  • Can cover a larger area than other RF technologies.
  • Lower interference from other signals.

Cons –

  • Higher cost than other technologies
  • Smart device are not UWB ready.
  • Additional hardware required for direct communication with smart devices in an application-centric architecture.

 

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Wayfinding with BLE Beacons

One of the largest theme parks in the Middle East Spread over a few million square feet wanted to implement a way finding solution for their visitors.
There are several different reasons a business may want to offer wayfinding. Visitors in a large park could benefit from more clear directions. This would mean stronger overall park operations. The Park goers can enjoy a heightened experience with navigation, making it easier to find a given venue or to explore what’s going on around them in real-time. The technology also allows businesses to drive traffic on a given path or create systems that optimize their own resources.

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the connectivity of modern technology and the growing network of smart devices that can communicate with one another. As technology becomes better and more affordable, the digital ecosystem will only continue to grow. Digital wayfinding will become increasingly prominent, precise, and widespread.
In the past, GPS has proven hugely useful for large operations outdoors, but there are limited possibilities for indoor or more compact settings.

Bluetooth is one of the few technologies offering real-time, affordable opportunities for such use cases.
Bluetooth, a wireless technology standard for exchanging data, has the potential to effectively and naturally engage customers indoors. In recent years, Bluetooth has evolved to become the global standard for the IoT revolution. Energy-efficient Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology has made a number of completely new technological applications possible. One major disruptor is the Bluetooth beacon or “tag.” The functionality of Bluetooth beacons is relatively simple. They send out a signal that is picked up by Bluetooth devices in the area. This signal indicates the Bluetooth user’s proximity to that beacon and, subsequently, the approximate location. Additional beacons can be installed to accurately identify an individual’s position down to meter level. Compared to other technologies, BLE beacons are very affordable. The technology is also easily integrated with other systems and everyday devices due to the existing widespread adaptation of the Bluetooth standard.

Most of smartphone owners bring their phones with them to the park.
While they intend to spend an entire day exploring they can get exhausted. When physical signage and other solutions fall short, Bluetooth-based wayfinding can get visitors from Point A to B to whenever they want without wasting time.

The benefit to both the park operators and visitors is immense. While the visitors get to find the best way to cover the most interesting parts of the park they enjoy, the park gets to know the location and movement patterns of their visitors. They can use this data to further mine for information and marketing insights.

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Safety Equipment Tracking in Aircraft

Preamble:

One of the leading Airlines in the region was faced with the challenge of consistent and reliable inspection of aircraft cabin safety equipment. This impacted turnaround time and eventually customer satisfaction and experience.

Summary:

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a well-established technology used across many industries for inventory control, asset tracking and security measures. Identifying a fundamental need of its innovative capabilities for the aviation industry, we have strategically developed an advanced RFID solution to help clients manage their equipment assets

accurately and instantaneously. By replacing the manually-intensive process of verifying the location and maintenance needs of each equipment or part individually; a new way to improve operational efficiencies.Our RFID Solutions offers advanced, automated tracking solutions that effectively replace the inefficient, manual inspection of aircraft equipment – saving valuable time and money. Our custom-built system can scan all tagged aircraft equipment, from flashlights and oxygen generators to carts, seat belts and life vests, in just minutes. The system immediately identifies if any tagged asset is missing, been tampered with, has expired or is due for regular maintenance.

As an example, assuring FAA compliance typically requires a physical check under or between each seat in an aircraft to verify the existence of required life vests.  Through the use of RFID-enabled life vest tags and a hand-held scanning device, an airline can quickly and easily verify on-board life vest inventory streamlining the compliance audit process and improving audit accuracy.

Audit data can then be forwarded to the organization’s inventory management systems where issues such as inventory losses and upcoming service requirements can be identified and addressed

Benefits:

Save costs on Emergency Equipment Management across the fleet of aircraft.
Lead time reduction in life vest inspection and life cycle management.
Complete an on-board cabin inspection in less than 10 minutes.

Conclusion:

Our Solution has enabled the airline to be the first in the region to provide the aviation industry with enhanced inventory tracking capabilities, streamlined audit procedures for compliance and the means to electronically identify and locate safety equipment requiring re-inspection or replacement.

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Know Your Employee… or your Visitor!

Digital Solutions for the Smart Enterprise

Information on employee identity and background is a privilege that every employer has. But that privilege comes with a responsibility. The employer not only needs to capture employee identification correctly but also ensure its security and safe keeping.

Employee data updates are a manual and cumbersome task in most organizations. Given the volume of expatriates and the different identity requirements, a digital solution is essential: One that can ensure compliance to HR record keeping without the drudgery of manual entry.

From an employee’s perspective, every individual wants their organization to treat his or her information sacred. Automating data capture eliminates any man-in-the-middle attack keeping critical information secure.

A lighter version of our Digital id solution can be used in visitor management as well. Reducing or even removing multiple intermediaries and ensuring authenticity prevent security lapses in an increasingly digital world. A stronger version for id verification would include two-factor authentication, an optional add on to our digital solution.

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Digital KYC for an Enhanced Customer Experience

Do we need to sacrifice customer experience at the altar of increased security? Not so.

The customer is king, we have been told. Yet there are enough and more processes that defy that statement. Some of the more mundane yet essential forms that remain the bane of our existence send our customers up some very hard walls.

We believe we have some exciting solutions in the Digital KYC enablement space. These could not only secure your customers’ identification, but also accelerate data capture and upload into applications. This is especially true for banks and other institutions that have had to harden their KYC stance to comply with AML and other regulatory requirements.

KYC should be built on the pillars of speed and accuracy of data capture. Digital KYC can help banks and financial institutions combat fraud and help build an enhanced customer experience.

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Enterprise Mobility – Smart Choices

With increasing requirement for mobilizing the work force, enterprises are finding it hard to select the right mobility devices to fulfill their requirements. Selecting a device with all the best features may not always be the right decision. The essence is to find the right mix of specifications that will best serve the purpose and provide favorable ROI. The device must be selected with consideration to various factors. The scrutiny  primarily includes: evaluation of performance, durability, communication capabilities etc.

Performance

Without any doubt, the best mobile device is the one with all the best features. But the question to be asked is, would you like to invest in a solution in which a larger portion of its ability is going to be unused during its life time? Instead, a mobility device with the right configurations will make the deployments hassle free and reduces the TCO considerably. Both software and hardware performance are to be considered equally. Since Microsoft is withdrawing their enterprise mobility OS platforms, Android OS versions do not have an immediate contender to choose from. Hence, it is best to select the latest versions of Android OS for any deployment.

Hardware performance involves evaluation of the processor features to identify the capabilities of the device. The most important factors affecting processor performance are

1.    CPU Capacity(Number of cores) – Selection of processor can be decided according to the extent of multitasking involved. The multitasking capability will be higher for the chip-set with more cores. But for an environment that does not have too many parallel processes at the same time,a basic chip-set with a limited number of core will be sufficient

Eg: For a solution that has fewer applications, a device like the Zebra MC40 with dual-core processor will be sufficient. Conversely, an application with too many processes that consume a lot of CPU power will require additional cores. At least a hex-core device like the Zebra TC75x or a Honeywell CT60 octa-core device for best performance. A hex-core or an octa-core device will have more CPU processing power to accommodate and better prioritize the process threads.

2.    Clock speed refers to the rate at which a processor completes a cycle. It defines how quickly the processor can complete all process threads in one cycle. But a higher clock speed does not always give the best performance. Other features like the instruction set, architecture, number of cores, bus speed, Cache size, Ram speed etc have higher influence on the performance. Therefore, Clock speed is a definite value to be checked provided all the other features are favorable.

3.    On-board cache – CPU cache is one of the major factors that affect the performance of the processor. The larger the Cache size, more data and instructions can be accommodated in the CPU. This in turn helps complete the compute cycles quickly. In addition, there are different layers for the CPU cache starting from L1 where the cache is divided into two parts: One for storing data and the other for Instructions. However, in L2 cache a single storage itself deals with both data and instructions aligned to the processor making process transactions easier & faster.

4.    Memory or RAM has two main attributes that affect your system’s performance: capacity and speed.

a.     Memory capacity: The more gigabytes (GB) your memory module has, the more programs you can have open at once.

b.    Memory Speed: The amount of time that it takes RAM to receive a request from the processor and then read or write data. Generally, the faster the RAM, the faster the processing speeds.

Today’s enterprises focusing on solutions that can work in challenging conditions, look for the most efficient device like the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A2 that has a maximum Clock speed of 2.4GHz, 4 GB RAM and 2 MB cache. Even though the device only has a Quad Core, the processor architecture of the AtomTM x5-Z8550 delivers performance with efficient multitasking capabilities.

Durability

Enterprise mobiles need to be rugged and IP rated (Ingress Protection) to help organizations safeguard their investments for a longer period. The degree of ruggedness depends on where, how and who will be using the device. The key is to decide the level of physical protection required for any given environmental condition.Typically, highly rugged mobile device like the Zebra TC75 with drop specs of up to 6ft/1.8m (multiple drops to concrete), MIL-STD-810G & IP rating IP67 that can withstand shocks, vibrations, extreme weather and electrostatic discharges are positioned for harsh environments, eg. warehouses, manufacturing facilities, yards etc. Whereas a semi rugged device such as the Zebra TC51/TC56 is ideal in a customer service area or in a sales department. There are various hazardous deployments like in the oil & gas industry where devices like Juniper systems – Archer 2 that are Intrinsic Safe(IS) must be used. IS devices do not release electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions so as not to cause ignition of certain specific hazardous atmospheric mixtures.

Communication capabilities

The most important aspect of a mobility solution is to make sure that the workforce is always available. The mode of communication depends on various factors such as Location (indoors or outdoors), Data type (voice or data only mode) etc. In Wi-Fi configurations it is most advantages to have mobile devices that can support both 2.4 GHz & 5.0 GHz channels. The advantage of retaining the IEEE 802.11a – 5.0 GHz band available is that, usually the devices using this band are far fewer in number than the overcrowded 802.11b – 2.4 GHz bands. This reduces the network interference and latency, enabling seamless transmission of information. All the enterprise mobility implementations will have either WWAN or a WLAN communication network set for ensuring the workforce visibility and for collecting data. In case of selecting a WWAN device, it is necessary to identify the right product that accommodates the latest 4G LTE technology to the older CDMA/GSM technologies. When it comes to WLAN communication standards, there are too many specifications set by IEEE in their 802.11 standards. In addition to the IEEE 802.11 standards a & b, there are other later versions such as g/n/ac/ad/af/ag/ah/ai/aj/aq/ax/ay. These standards have further improved the communication ability between network connected devices by introducing various additional features to WLAN such as multiple-input multiple-output antennas (MIMO), Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) etc. improving the data rate, low latency and faster link speed. Other developments in Wi-fi technology have enabled communication in a wide range of frequencies starting from the Sub 1 GHz up to 60 GHz signals.

Conclusion

While an analysis of the above three major factors are essential, do note that there are other factors that affect an organization’s deployment of mobility devices. It is necessary to keep in mind the physical characteristics (dimensions, size of the device, weight etc.) of the device depending on the method of usage. You may not want your end user to carry a bulky / heavy device throughout his or her shift. But such a device can be deployed in a fleet management system. For e.g A device fixed inside a vehicle can be heavy & large as it may need to have a large screen size. The brightness of the screen and anti-glare features are also vital if the devices are going to be used in outdoor locations directly under the sun. This helps the user to view the screen and perform actions under bright light. In some cases, it is necessary to have a device that can be operated with a gloved hand. The ergonomics of the device in terms of key/ button layout and scan window position is also critical in operation(whether to use a virtual keyboard or a physical keypad). In some cases, a scan gun form factor is necessary for ease of scanning bar-codes, while in some locations a smartphone form factor is ideal. Even though I have elaborated and focused on the above mentioned major deciding factors according to my experience in enterprise mobility deployments, there are several other minor factors involved.