Compact and Full-featured:
Xi3 makes a pretty unique, full-featured PC that you can fit almost anywhere. Why am I bringing this up on a public safety tech blog? Well, computer systems are beginning to show up on our ambulances and squads, for one. Another company makes a PC in a larger chassis than this one, featuring all sorts of connections and talks to your agency’s servers, acting like a gateway to connect your cardiac monitors, tablets for charting, vital signs monitors, and giving you an onboard WiFi connection. This little wonder from Xi3 can do all of that, for a much lower price, using a little less power, and taking up less space than other commercial on-board computer systems.
It can presently run an AMD dual-core processor, features eSATA and USB 2 .0 support, 2GB RAM, up to a 128GB SSD (Solid State Hard Drive), and consumes a meager 20 Watts of power (compared to a typical 90 Watts for other small form factor PC’s and even laptops), which shouldn’t drain your battery while on scene.
In my humble opinion, an ideal setup would be to pair this computer with Windows 8 (great for small portable applications, and works fantastically with touchscreen interactions) and mount a small USB touch screen (like a Xenarc 708TSU 7″ USB touchscreen monitor) on your dash or center console. You could equip it further with the following and have a full feature PC:
- Add a 4G USB wireless modem through Verizon or AT&T and turn that into a hotspot
- Add a waterproof combo keyboard and mouse or a combination keyboard with touchpad (like the ones I reviewed from SealShield)
- Add a Bluetooth connection
- Add a USB GPS receiver
- connect the audio into your vehicle’s stereo or a speaker in the cab.
You then have a complete, permanent mount system that you can use to navigate to calls, interact with your CAD, document calls on, chat, check e-mail, study for CME (like the kind offered with CentreLearn), work on your degree with online schooling, watch videos on (like Netflix), stream audio, fax charts to hospitals, use webapps like WebEOC, HAvBed, and Intermedix, look up online work schedules, and so much more. The unit would stay fixed in the cab, so when an attendant has the tablet PC in the back with the patient, the driver can still access the CAD and GPS maps.
This system could act as a gateway for your tablet PC, be tied into on-board vehicle diagnostics, which could alert your maintenance department that the vehicle is experiencing problems or is coming due for routine service. You could install Windows or Linux server software. You could automatically send patient care reports and 12-lead EKG’s to the hospitals. You can use it to track temperatures in heated or cooled cabinets for medications, or use it with a connected narcotics locker. It can be configured to accept video feeds from dash cams, patient compartment cams, backup cams, or whatever. You can place an additional monitor in the patient compartment to allow movies or gaming for kids on long-distance transfers. It could stream weather reports to the field. The possibilities are nearly limitless.
The only moving part is a cooling fan, so you could easily get several years of use out of one of these. Come to think of it, this would make an awesome car PC to replace your stock stereo system…
Visit www.xi3.com to check it out. Incidentally, their rep recently sent me an e-mail about some updates and new models coming out soon (including a quad-core processor model with more memory and USB 3.0 ports), plus they have a project at Kickstarter to even further develop their tiny PC. View the press releases about the new models at http://www.xi3.com/news.php?id=708