Mobile Tech, From Drug Tests To Train Tracks - InformationWeek

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11/21/2007
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Chris Murphy
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Mobile Tech, From Drug Tests To Train Tracks

A pro cycling team gave riders BlackBerrys so it can summon them anytime for unannounced drug tests. Now, testing employees for elevated testosterone on three hours notice might not be a core competency for your company. But it gets to a challenge: do you have a problem that mobile technology lets you look at in a new way?

A pro cycling team gave riders BlackBerrys so it can summon them anytime for unannounced drug tests. Now, testing employees for elevated testosterone on three hours notice might not be a core competency for your company. But it gets to a challenge: do you have a problem that mobile technology lets you look at in a new way?Here's this week's flurry of new ideas for putting mobile business technology to work.

If BlackBerry devices can save the Tour de France from doping scandals, what can't they do? InformationWeek's Richard Martin spotlights a pro cycling team's unique use of the devices:

The BlackBerry devices will be used to broadcast team updates, to notify riders of scheduling changes, to update the team's racing calendar -- and to keep the riders within contact of team managers at all times so that drug tests can be scheduled with a few hours' notice.

The railroad CSX found an intriguing to a common problem. CSX wanted to give its track inspectors mobile devices, hoping to replace the seven-inch binders they carry around. What's interesting is the device it chose: a little-known ultramobile computer from OQO that's unlike anything in the market. It's not a beefed-up smartphone on a mobile operating system, nor a small laptop. It's a smartphone-sized (about 3 by 5) computer, running Windows XP or Vista so it can handle full enterprise applications, not mobilized versions. Again, from Richard Martin :

"We wanted to go with something small and Windows-based," says Larry Biess, director of advanced engineering for CSX. "The biggest thing for us was, with the OQO we didn't have to develop new software for the handheld device -- we could just port over our existing applications from the desktop environment. It took a lot of pressure off of us."

And, because you know all this innovation doesn't come without pain, there's Symantec and McAfee touting antivirus software, and this bit of perspective from Andrew Conry-Murray:

Enterprises that issue mobile phones to their employees will have to include security software, regardless of its efficacy, because it's a best practice, and will probably be a compliance mandate. So Symantec and McAfee will get their pound of flesh. Consumers would be better advised to save their money and use common sense: don't accept Bluetooth connections from unknown devices, don't enter sensitive data on unknown or untrusted sites, and be careful what you download.

… and this bit of explanation for that 'why the heck does that keep happening' joy of emerging technology, about Motorola Sidekick Slide phones that randomly shut off.

Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving is/was a BlackBerry-free zone.

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