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2 November 2010

Future-proofed Psion

The first device to be unveiled in connection with Psion’s new mobile computing platform is the Omnii XT10. The Omnii platform is a development of Psion’s move to an Open Source Mobility business model and combines three core elements: a modular mobile computing platform, an open approach to collaboration and development, and customisable products, solutions and services.

One benefit for end users, says the company, is that the platform is reconfigurable in the field, so there is no longer a need to over-specify devices in orders to avoid early obsolescence. Devices built on Omnii can be adapted for new technologies, or have modules changed to meet new business needs.

Psion’s strategy is that upgrades and additional interchangeable modules will be developed by its 200 developer partners as well as by itself, all connected through its online community,

The Omnii XT10 from Psion’s Teklogix division is the first to emerge from this new process. It has a Texas Instruments OMAP3 600 MHz processor with 56MB RAM and 512MB Flash ROM, and its super scalar architecture delivers parallel ARM instructions for better performance and better efficiency at lower MHz. The operating system is Windows CE 6.0.

The display is a 640x28 transflective colour touch screen, and the device has integrated Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g, plus FIPS 140-2 support. Expansion ports include Micro SD slot for flash memory expansion and RS232 series, USB and GPIO ports. There is a SIRF III GPS expansion module.

The battery delivers an impressive 5000mAH life and incorporates a "health monitor" that warns when the battery is nearing the end of its lifecycle.

Modules include a swappable keyboard, 1D and 2D scanners, three megapixel autofocus camera with a manual digital zoom and video capability, pistol grip, and push-to-talk speaker / microphone.

Psion has ensured the XT10 is fit for purpose. It has an IP65 dust-and-water resistance rating and can handle 2-metre drops.

John Conoley, Psion’s chief executive, comments: "We’ve tested, adapted and evolved the platform on the basis of on direct feedback from the people who will use and develop on it. This modular design approach allows customisation at far greater levels than anyone in this industry has achieved before. The savings that can be generated through lower total cost of ownership and longer product life are compelling."

Sandpiper, a Psion Teklogix partner, thinks the Omnii XT10 will be well suited to warehousing environments. "It is impressively rugged and robust," says managing director Simon Hagenbach. "The modular platform should help product availability, shortening lead times."

As devices have become ever more customised, he explains, so off-the-shelf has diminished and build-to-order has become more widespread in the supply chain.

Hagenbach also thinks Psion’s community Web site for software and hardware developers could prove beneficial for end-users. "A customer might want an unusual function, for example. Rather than start from scratch, someone within the community might have already had the same request, or developed a solution, which we could then incorporate into the device."


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