The engineers and designers at L-3 Mobile-Vision had a clear mission when they started to develop the company's next generation of mobile computers. They wanted to incorporate many of the best features of consumer computers-ergonomic design, fast processors, and abundant connectivity-into a high-end fully rugged mobile system.
"With our new V-One computer system, we wanted to capture all of the good things that we offered in our MV-1 product, key feature requests we received from our customers, and launch it with the absolute latest technology," says Charles Vlcek, L-3 Mobile-Vision's vice president of sales and marketing.
L-3 also wanted to totally rethink the form of the fully rugged mobile computer. And that's the first thing that the casual observer will notice about the company's new V-One. The MV-1 was a standard combination of CPU, display, and keyboard. In contrast, the V-One is essentially a one-piece unit (really two pieces, CPU/display and keyboard), as the CPU is integrated into the display.
In the recent past, law enforcement mobile computers have generally tended to be fairly slow systems. Now that appears to be changing, and the V-One is part of that wave. Its processor is an ultra-powerful Intel i7 mobile processor.
Vlcek says L-3 chose the powerful Intel processor because of customer demand for a heavy-duty chipset capable of running the latest Automatic License Plate Reader systems. "The V-One does not require an external processor to run ALPR algorithms," he explains.
Another V-One component that boosts the machine's speed is its solid state hard drive. The drive returns data much faster than conventional spinning platter disks. Solid state disks are also much more stable, which makes the V-One even more rugged. "You're not going to see the kinds of hard drive failures that you get with non-solid state drives," Vlcek says.
The development team at L-3 also focused on making the V-One as user-friendly and utilitarian for public safety personnel as possible. For example, the V-One's 1200 NIT display features an infrared touchscreen that can be used with gloves and responds very quickly to an officer's commands. Also, the V-One has programmable keys on its bezel that officers can use to make quick replies to dispatchers such as letting them know they are en route, on scene, or closing out the incident. "This makes it easier for the officer to respond," says Vlcek. "Plus the officer doesn't have to divert attention to respond."
Another differentiator is the multiple connectivity options built into the V-One. It comes standard with 802.11 B, G, and N for WiFi. Also, the system runs a wide variety of Bluetooth peripherals. In addition, there are two Ethernet ports, two serial ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a PCI Express slot for 3G and 4G wireless cards.
Supervisors and command staff may be particularly interested in another of the V-One's features. The system can run two touchscreen displays simultaneously. That means that a supervisor or incident commander can set up a display in the back of his or her command vehicle and have full access to the department's computer system.
Fully ruggedized, the V-One meets the vibration, drop, and temperature requirements of MIL-STD 810G. Its front and side panels are also splash proof, meeting IP 64. "You can throw a cup of coffee at the face of the screen, and it won't do any damage," Vlcek says.
The V-One is expected to be available this fall. Vlcek says it will be priced lower than the MV-1 three-piece unit. In addition, because it does not require cabling to be run to a separate CPU in the glove box, trunk, or console, L-3 projects that installation of the system will be significantly lower than the cost to install a three-piece unit.