Rugged smartphones with thermal imaging technology
In extreme conditions like battlefields, oil and gas fields, mines, harsh vehicle conditions, and construction sites, the performance of humans depends considerably on electronic devices like notebooks and other gadgets. At such locations and conditions, tough mobile devices such as rugged smartphones are essential.
Thermal imaging technology detects the temperature difference between the objects in the background and foreground. Due to the rising popularity of thermal imaging cameras technology in mobile devices such as monoculars and binoculars, the technology is now being integrated into rugged smartphones.
In February 2016, Caterpillar introduced a rugged smartphone, the Cat S60, which has an inbuilt thermal imaging camera, which may be useful across segments such as the police and fire brigade.
According to Sunil Kumar Singh, a lead analyst at Technavio for computing devices research, "Rugged smartphones also diverse connectivity options such as through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 3G. This makes them even more attractive. Bluetooth allows a user to connect wirelessly to a compatible accessory or a laptop and allows the transfer of files between the devices."
Consumerization of rugged phones
Rugged smartphones are generally for a niche market. However, due to the emergence of slimmer, thinner, and lighter designs, these robust smartphones are attracting individual customers also.
The major concern is that established standard laptop vendors like Apple and Samsung have started manufacturing more durable devices, which is a threat to the rugged device manufacturers entering this market.
Rugged device manufacturers and their resellers can offer unique features to the customers, which will help in the consumerization of rugged smart devices. This is a positive sign for its growth as the customer base of rugged smartphones will increase once it is adopted by individual consumers.
High growth potential in emerging markets
In emerging economies, most of the businesses are small scale and, in most cases, do not use computing devices for their manufacturing and other business activities, as a high capital investment is required for the procurement of such devices.
With the increasing availability of commercial consumer-grade devices in recent years, coupled with low costs for such devices, there has been a substantial increase in the penetration of commercial consumer-grade devices.
Market for rugged electronic devices
"The market for rugged handheld devices is still very young but it is expected to pick up with the maturity of the commercial consumer-grade devices market. Therefore, the adoption of rugged devices in developing economies would depend on the widespread penetration of the smart commercial consumer-grade device market," says Sunil.