Cabe, you are correct, and I am sure that there are devices that are as durable as the Panasonic "Toughbook" computer, even today. But most folks have the more popular smartphones and never consider the places that those phones should never go. Even just a bit of clean water can kill them if it gets into the wrojg places.
Keep in mind, there are numerous "smart" products that are designed for those harsh environments. The apps are made for devices suitable for whatever situation. It's like a tuxedo vs work clothes, technically a tux is clothing, but I doubt people would wear it to dig ditches.
An interesting article, and I am certain that it will be useful for those who choose to work with that tiny screen and those small keys, taking their expensive smartphone out into the oily and harsh production floor environment. Drop that phone once onto a concrete floor and it may not be quite right from then on, drop it into some water and it is gone forever. Some places are just terribly hard on phones, it seems.
But this ia America and we are free and so those who wish to bring a computer like their smart phone into hazardous duty are welcome to do it. My choice is to keep the computer in the office and have what I need to do any kind of work on the plant floor on paper, which is both cheap and rugged, even if not durable. How many pages equal the price of an entry level smartphone?
My point being that there is another side to the discussion and that we just simply do not need the portable computer on the production floor. Instead, we use experience and understanding to find our way.
Nice job in doing the research to find these list of apps. My kids are masters finding new games and all sort of entertaining apps, so I (and I believe most people) tend to look at smart devices (phones, tablets) more as gaming consoles but they really are outstanding resources for Professionals of many fields from Engineering, Medicine, Sports, Management, etc.
By the way, my Company is developing a new app that works as a circuit breaker analyzer, which allows to evaluate the condition of the whole breaker based on vibration analysis, check it out at www.circuitbreakeranalyzer.com
Hi Gabe, thanks for the article. Of all the gazillions of apps out there, I don't know how I would come across potentially useful engineering apps without articles like this.
I have a quibble with you though - you didn't put the app names in there at all! Or what platform(s) they're available for. I have to click into the app store / whatever link (or manually parse the URL) to find out what it is called so I can then search for the app. Maybe I should be reading this article on my device to begin with, but that is not the case (tiny screen...ugh). At least I can tell one platform just from looking at the screenshot, but are any available for multple platforms? I dunno.
Understanding the basics really means understanding the math behind the principles. Now we can engineer quit well without understanding the math - we put our faith in the software understanding the math. A little bit of trail and error and we have a feasible answer without mudding up the brain with the drudgery of math. So many times now we go right into prototyping without laborious verifications.
Young engineers have ofen complained that facilities such as featured don't go far enough in understanding the basics of what is involved. That can always be addressed by an addendum to such Apps that appends the history of the evolution of the technology so that the younger engineers can see from where the technology emerged.
One classic example recently was the 30 something who asked me where his smartphone technology came from so I took him back to the crystal radio via transistor via integrated circuit scenario and he brightened up googling that sequence and feeding back quite an extraordinary understanding of where we are and where we're likely to go....so i believe it can be done without overwhelming the youngsters.
I agree with Al. This is a fantastic idea for a post. Looking at these apps, I can't help but wonder if these capabilities change the way engineering is taught in today's universities. I can't imagine the learning procss is the same as it was when I was in school 40 years ago. On the other hand, would apps such as these inhibit the student's ability to fully comprehend the material?
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