Xplores Rugged Tablet PCs Meet Emerging Defense Training Challenges

Saab Training Systems develops world-leading systems and services for military training. The company offers a total concept with reliable systems that through their realism and precision create optimum conditions for soldiers and officers to improve their abilities in a cost effective way. Today the company employs around 400 people. Its subsidiaries are located in the USA, UK, Germany, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Canada and almost 95% of its profitability is reflected in exports to nearly 20 countries.

Building training efficiency
Tactical training is the most complex of the different categories Saab Training Systems offers. The key element in tactical training is that the entire training session is recorded on a computer. Saab Training Systems began its operations in 1975. Prior to that time, a computer-aided recording method was utilized. The training session was supervised and evaluated based on the training commanders observations. A few years ago, the first vehicle mounted computers were deployed, followed by rugged Tablet PCs, which are mainly used out in the field. Before we found Xplores rugged tablet, we tested various devices, which looked good on paper, but failed in reality. It was a challenge to find a truly ruggedized tablet, Erik Nilsson, the project manager from Saab Training Systems explains. In addition to surviving in rigorous conditions, we also require fast data processing capabilities to run our complex software smoothly on the system. Its the combination of robustness and power that Saab and our customers demand from the mobile computing solution, Nilsson continues.






The supervisor can monitor the geographic
position of the troops from the tablet.

Each soldier, who participates in the training session wears a vest, which has small loudspeakers, radio antenna and built-in GPS. Additionally, the helmet has integrated laser detectors and reflectors. The GPS sends location information via a radio network to the tablet and the commander, who is the primary user of the Tablet PC. The commander can supervise the movements of the troops and give commands to soldiers, which are communicated via the Saab-developed Radio Communication System architecture called DAN (data acquisition network). Regular wLAN does not meet the required data transfer rates and GPRS is too slow for this purpose. In addition to the real-time supervision on the field, the entire training session is recorded on the tablet and used for a post maneuvers review. For the feed-back session, the recorded training data is often screened on a large canvas, as the size of the exercise session can be anything from platoon level through brigade combat team size - between ten to a thousand participants.







Two function buttons on the keypad have been
programmed to zoom the display and to switch
between the map view and task panel view.

Heavy operation in any terrain and in all weather conditions
Xplores iX104C2 tablets are mainly used by the supervisor of the training session, who is typically on the field close to the troops. Training sessions are conducted in various weather conditions, which can vary considerably. In Scandinavian countries, where Saab Training Systems and its customers currently deploy Xplore tablets as part of the combat training systems, the temperature can reach +30C in a sunny summer day while in winter it can drop down to -20C. The operating temperature range for the tablet was also a deciding factor for us, when we selected the best computing solution for Saab, Nilsson stated, emphasizing the importance of this environmental factor. Xplores iX104C2 tablets have no problem surviving in extreme temperatures, since the tablets can be used at temperatures between -20C and +60C. Additionally the AllVue display that is readable in bright sunshine is ideal for outdoor use.

Another important feature is the battery life time. Nilsson clarifies: A training session can last half an hour, a whole day or any time between that. The major purpose that rugged tablets are used is to record the training data and also to communicate during the training session. Therefore we need reliable, long-lasting batteries to be able to work on the field.

To take full advantage of the Xplore tablet, Saab Training Systems has programmed the most common functions needed when using their software behind the programmable function keys on the keypad of the tablet. The user can switch between a map view, which shows the location data of each soldier and vehicle participating in the training session, and a task panel view, which shows messages communicated between each participant and the commander. Another function button is programmed for magnifying, thereby enabling the user to enlarge the selected area of the map.

As the training systems become more complex and advanced, the need for rugged, durable and sophisticated equipment grows exponentially. In addition to defense and military training, there are other user groups for similar types of systems such as the public safety sector. Xplores rugged Tablet PC systems are powerful solutions ready for future expansion whether its for a more versatile software application or another harsh environment!

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