There’s Small, and Then There’s Mini

Picture a small desktop computer in your mind. Even today, they are fair sized rectangular boxes that take up a considerable amount of space on the desk or underneath it. Now picture a mini PC… Is it just a tad smaller than the desktop? With Tangent’s line of industrial rugged mini PCs, you’d have to imagine quite a bit to approach the reality of their diminutive size and the fact that they are still full featured PCs.

rugged mini PC

Tangent’s Rugged Mini O PC is a fascinating little computer with a fully stainless steel and waterproof housing that is rated at an IP69K.  Because of its threaded sealed ports, external devices plugged into the ports will not introduce water or dust into the unit. The mini PC also has plugs for the ports when they are not being utilized to ensure protection from water and contaminants. A solid state drive and passive fanless cooling technology make the mini PC a perfect candidate for work areas that require extremely sanitary conditions, areas where dirt or high moisture is common, or any industrial environment where space or contamination is a concern. It’s a great PC for places like the Los Amigos Biological Station in the jungles of the Amazon in Peru, or even at an outdoor venue in Hilo, Hawaii where rain is a near daily occurrence.

RUGGED MINI

For those needing a computer in the most compact of spaces, the Rugged  Mini L2 PC is one of the slimmest of them all. This super mini PC weighs a paltry amount at just over five pounds, with a thickness of just 1.3 inches. It can easily be mounted underneath a desk, in a luxury car, on industrial vehicles, in AV closets for conferences rooms, and anywhere that has limited room but still requires a reliable and durable computer.  Even with it’s tiny size, the L2 mini PC still manages to provide 12 I/O ports including 3 display ports and 4 USB ports. The PC can accommodate wireless internet access, 16GB of memory, 2TB of storage and has shock and vibration resistance. It’s hard to believe all of these features fits in such a small computer.

Rugged Mini E3

So the Mini O is great for those needing a water tight system, and the L2 is a perfect fit in tight spaces, but what about extreme temperature environments like the cold of the frozen north or the heat of the desert?  The Rugged Mini E2 PC was constructed to easily withstand extreme temperatures from -40°F to 158°F. Protection for -40°F may seem like overkill, but just this year, those temperatures were recorded in the high north of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and that’s a normal winter temperature in very remote places like Grise Fjord, Nunavut, Canada. The temperature rating makes sense in a place like that, but what benefits would a mini PC have there? The housing in Grise Fjord is quite sparse and small; even the airport is considered more of a shelter than a terminal, so aviation and computer equipment all have to be as compact as possible. In our world and in business, there are a great variety of environments that require specialized equipment to survive and succeed.

coMING OF AGE

Coming of Age of a Medical Computer

Coming of Age of a Medical Computer

 

In the 1990s, the term “medical computer” didn’t mean much more than a PC in a doctor’s office, or computers set up specifically for order entry, medical database access, or patient surveys. The equipment itself wasn’t anything special or purpose built for the medical field. Nowadays, a medical grade computer is expected to provide clinical resources, constant uptime, and also protect patients and staff from the spread of infection. Mobile clinical carts use medical panel PCs for in-room patient care, staff use tablets to put in patient meal orders or pharmacy orders, and even the LCD monitors are of a certified medical grade.

 

Modern CDC guidelines require that medical computers be UL/IEC60601-1 certified after in-depth testing for safe use near patients, other medical equipment, and performance compliance. Antimicrobial coatings on medical computers have the capability to kill or inhibit the growth of microbes on their surface or surrounding environment. The antimicrobial agents are formulated for low toxicity, minimal environmental problems, and prolonged lifetime of the computer components the agent is applied to. Tangent’s medical computers are not only 60601 certified and antimicrobial, they are also IP rated to prevent ingress of water or contaminants. The Medix C24 medical computer has an IP65 front panel. It’s also loaded with I/O ports and mounting options so that it can be used for carts, arms, desktops, or anywhere it’s needed.

 

In addition to being suited to safety and sanitation needs, medical grade computers have to stay at the forefront of technological advances in order to serve ever-changing clinical requirements and advances. As soon as touchscreen technology became widely available, they started being integrated into medical devices and hospital workflows. Tangent’s M24T medical computer offers PCAP multi-touch, up to 32GB of memory, Intel Core processors, advanced graphics capabilities, and a built-in webcam. Why is a webcam important?  Telemedicine or “virtual visit” doctor appointments have become a popular alternative to in-person visits. Patients can conduct live video chats with a doctor 24-7 via web meetings. The M24T medical computer also has a UPS battery backup. If a doctor is meeting with a patient and the power goes out, the meeting can still proceed uninterrupted. Tangent’s computers are also validated to work well with popular EMR software packages like Cerner or Epic.

 

Medical computers have come a long way over the decades; they are safer, sturdier, more secure, and reliable than ever. Tangent’s industrial and medical PCs have far too many features to mention in one article, but they are all built to provide the most utility, versatility and value to its users.

 

Medical Computer Excellence

5 Ways Medical Computers Excel over Consumer PCs

5 Ways Medical Computers Excel over Consumer PCs

 

There’s a good reason why the healthcare field is one of the most heavily regulated industries with the most oversight. When it comes to patient care, painstaking efforts are necessary to protect everyone at a medical facility including staff and visitors. Everything including medical equipment needs to meet strict criteria in order to be certified for hospital use from the spread of contagion and harmful pathogens. The following list elaborates on just a few of the features that really set a true medical computer apart from your standard consumer PC.

 

  1. Antimicrobial Coating

Antimicrobial protection on medical computer surfaces is achieved with additives that are baked right into the plastic of the enclosure. These additives have been proven to have long-lasting effectiveness in combating fungi, bacteria, molds and spreadable pathogens. Both the casing & screen of the Tangent’s medical computers have antimicrobial material which prevents germs from growing, lowering patient infection rates. Proper cleaning of the computer equipment helps prevent MRSA, CDIFF, and Hepatitis from growing and spreading. The antimicrobial coating also has the added benefit of minimizing odors, staining, and degradation of  the surfaces where it is applied.

     2. UL/IEC60601-1 Certification

Having a UL/IEC60601-1 Certification demonstrates that a medical computer has been rigorously tested and guaranteed to be protected from electrical frequency leakage, making it safe for use near patients and staff. The medical computer’s certification also indicates that it is shielded and will not interfere with other sensitive medical equipment in the vicinity.

     3. Smart Card Readers, RFID,  Barcode Scanners, Etc

Tangent’s medical computer line has a variety of options that provide many benefits to the clinical work space. An in-system smart card reader allows for secure login and user identification, as well as accept credit card payments. Bar code scanners are great for quickly scanning patient wristbands and medication for either checking in, checking out, or tracking inventory of hospital assets. RFID also provides a fast and easy way to track assets or locate people or equipment within a facility.  Having accessories like these built into a medical computer saves on time and cuts down on wires and attachments that can be lost or stolen.

    4. Hot Swap Batteries/Internal Batteries

Disaster recovery is a main staple of a medical facility’s preparedness package. When there’s a power outage, patient’s lives can be at risk. Hot swappable batteries in some of Tangent’s medical computers can provide up to 10.5 hours of runtime without any interruption. This can be a literal lifesaver during periods of severe power loss.

    5. Fanless Operation

Longevity, reliability, and strong performance are requisite of any medical computer. An excellent advance for computer technology was the introduction of the fanless computer. With no moving fan parts, the system has fewer components that can wear out and fail. In addition to that, a fanless system will not collect dust and contaminants inside of it or blow it around in the air. People with sensitive systems or allergies certainly appreciate that.  

Fanless Computer

No Dust Bunnies This Easter…

No Dust Bunnies This Easter…

 

Finding dust build up inside a fan-cooled computer is like finding traffic in LA. It’s always there no matter how much you try to avoid it. Thousands of hours of fan-driven air movement and electrostatic charges make the internals of a PC or laptop a prime dust magnet. From a functional perspective, collected dust, dirt, hair and debris sucked into the computer can cause overheating by insulating vital components and blocking vents. When intake vents get clogged up, the exhaust fans will pull air through every other hole in the case, eventually clogging them with dust and fuzz particles as well.

 

What does all this dust being circulated around mean for the world outside the computer? Anyone with allergies knows that it means an absolutely miserable day. In a work or hospital setting, the amount of lint and filth floating around from computer fans can be potentially harmful, especially to those experiencing compromised health situations. So how does one ensure better air quality and clean PC internals when considering computer systems for an office? An industrial or medical grade fanless computer from Tangent will absolutely hit that mark.

 

Most every computer that Tangent produces operates completely fanless and without any moving parts. Fanless cooling is achieved through conduction, or passive cooling, techniques along with processing components that give off less heat.  Modern CPUs can run with less power than before and at a cooler rate. Solid state hard drives have no moving parts and therefore are immensely cooler than standard disc hard drives. The LED backlit LCDs on the fanless computers also have low power consumption and heat output, and the cast aluminum or stainless steel chassis casings absorb any internal heat and dissipates it like a heat sink. Fanless computers save on power, reduce all computer noise, and do not circulate dust and contaminants.

Fanless Industrial Computer
Fanless F15 Industrial Computer

Tangent’s professional fanless computer lines, the medical grade T, C, and E series, or the industrial grade KW and S series are the culmination of decades of advances in technology to reduce power consumption, increase speed, maximize durability and reliability, and provide a safe, clean working environment for its users. So much effort has gone into packing Tangent’s fanless computers with tons of features and options while still ensuring that they won’t overheat or fail. Many consumer grade PCs and laptops are moving towards a fanless model, but unless high quality components and construction are employed, as with industrial grade computers, there’s no guarantee for performance or longevity.

 

The Difference Between a Panel PC and a Tablet

The Difference Between a Panel PC and a Tablet

 

An industrial grade touchscreen panel PC may have many of the same features as a tablet, but its purpose is to provide an incredibly durable, impenetrable, fast, and powerful computer system that will last for many years.  Tangent offers four lines of industrial panel PCs to meet business needs ranging from elegant office spaces to extremely harsh environments to the open air outdoors. How is this sort of longevity achieved? For one, industrial touchscreen panel PCs are constructed with materials that are much stronger and resistant to wear than a consumer grade computer. Second, Tangent’s panel PCs (for the most part) are completely fanless and have no moving internal parts that can wear out and fail. Tangent’s panel PCs also go through rigorous testing to ensure that the temperature and enclosure protection rating given to it is accurate. In the performance category, an industrial touchscreen panel PC is a full-fledged computer system with the same type of hardware capacity as many high end desktop solutions, far outweighing the capacity of any tablet.

 

The tastefully classic and clean looking  KW series of Tangent’s panel PC gives any space a professional look, yet this system is much more robust than appearances can tell. The chassis is cast aluminum and has a protection rating of IP65 against water or dust ingress into the internals. Because of this rating, the computer can be wiped down throughout the day if needed. The panel PC also has versatile VESA mounting options, so it can be placed nearly anywhere. It works well in a number of capacities like as an informational kiosk in high traffic areas or a front desk computer for answering phones using touchscreen interfaces.

Flat Panel PCs

The incredibly sturdy and resilient S series of industrial panel PCs are perfect for the most harsh of working conditions. They are well suited to food processing plants, grimey industrial factories, farms, heavy weather stations, and anywhere else where a standard consumer computer will not survive. The S series are rated at an IP69K level of protection, which guarantees the internals are safe from the use of high pressure, hot water jets on the enclosure, cleaning solutions, and any sort of contaminate intrusion.  These industrial touchscreen panel PCs are housed with corrosion resistance stainless steel, are shock and vibration resistant, and have sunlight readable screens with UV coating. Not only is the S series panel PC fanless, but like the other offerings from Tangent, it’s has best-in-class integrated media and graphics performance backed by Intel Core processors.

 

It doesn’t take much to see that an industrial panel PC is so much more than just a big tablet. The more you look, the more that will surprise you in such an unassuming package.

medical grade computer

3 Essential Features of Medical Computers

3 Essential Features of Medical Computers

 

“Medical grade computer” isn’t a label you can slap on anything off the shelf. Understandably, there are stringent regulations around what can be considered a safe computer component for use around patients in healthcare environments or in highly sanitary conditions. Medical computers are designed to be installed in a variety of areas in a hospital or care center like medical stations and carts, wall mounted arms, or even patient lobbies, and they often have features like barcode scanners, internal batteries, or card readers to further provide desirable clinical utility. The following are three major requirements to be considered a medical computer.

EN60601-certified

UL/IEC60601-1 Certification

This certification is granted when a medical electrical device undergoes and successfully passes testing for safety and performance compliance with CDC guidelines for environmental infection control, electric shock prevention, and isolation precautions. It is a guarantee of reliability and assurance that the medical computer won’t cause harm to clinical staff or patients. Tangent’s line of medical computers have all been thoroughly tested and certified.

 

IP Rating, International Protection Marking

The IP rating of a mechanical casing and/or electrical enclosure classifies and rates the degree of protection it provides against intrusion by any number of external forces. The ratings list specific foreign objects and water pressure forces that the enclosure of the device is effective against. Most of Tangent’s medical computers are sealed and protected with an IP65 rating. This indicates that the medical computer is dust tight and ingress of any foreign particle will not occur. The IP65 rating also means that the device can safely be sprayed down with water jets from a nozzle. Thus, the medical computer can be sanitized with cleansers and water and will not harbor any contaminants or dust, which is crucial for clinical settings.

antimicrobial

Antimicrobial Protection

Tangent’s medical grade computers are manufactured with antimicrobial agents embedded in the enclosure. The antimicrobial agent in the medical computer’s plastic is necessary to address patient and medical staff safety by preventing surface contamination and the spread of harmful pathogens, germs, or mold spores. Infection control initiatives are some of the top priorities in hospitals, making antimicrobial treatment incredibly important for computer equipment that is touched by many people and could transmit bacteria or other organisms to health compromised patients.

 

industrial LCD touchscreen monitors

Industrial LCD Touchscreen Monitors for Self Service

Industrial LCD Touchscreen Monitors for Self Service

 

The use of industrial grade LCD touchscreen monitors have been commonplace for well over a decade, but their appeal and ease-of-use is prompting an even wider expansion of implementation to most everywhere in daily life. In the food and beverage industry, Panera Bread reported in 2016 that 60 percent of its lunchtime transactions are completed on touchscreen terminals, and other big chain restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s are quickly adopting this self serve method at their locations as well. If you visit any Buffalo Wild Wings, you’ll be greeted by a self-service ordering and entertainment kiosk at your table. Allowing customers to order and customize their own meal orders on LCD kiosks without waiting in lines and at their own pace has not only seen improvements in accuracy and satisfaction, but it also allows the retailer to unobtrusively offer additional items to add on to the meal. Having some entertainment built in also keeps customers engaged and happy while they wait on their food.

Most every casino has industrial touchscreen gambling at every seat that isn’t forded by a live dealer, and soon enough, deluxe seats at sporting events will have small kiosks to order from wait staff. We use industrial touchscreen LCD monitors to check in our luggage at the airport, get directions and information in stores, and to fill out forms at doctor’s offices. A Forrester study found that 74 percent of consumers who have used an in-store kiosk reported it was useful to them.

 

These industrial LCD monitors go through unbelievable amounts of wear and tear on a daily basis and are expected to hold up for years of continued twenty four operation. As the technology for sensitivity and accuracy of the touchscreens have improved over the years, so has the effort to create durable, rugged, and long lasting industrial grade LCD monitors to withstand both daily pummeling and environmental or temperature changes. High quality industrial LCD monitors are built with a stainless steel or cast aluminum chassis that is highly protected against any liquid or contaminant intrusion. The enclosures are often rated at an IP66 or higher and can withstand directed sprays of water, spilt drinks on the gambling or dinner table, oils from hundreds of finger touches, and food splatters. The protection on an industrial LCD monitor is also rated at a NEMA 4 or better, ensuring addition protection against corrosion and external formation of ice on the enclosure. The wiles of weather and temperatures are kept at bay by the protected enclosure, offering a range of safe operation from -4 – 140°F (-20 – 60°C).

 

The touchscreen display on an industrial LCD monitor is typically either 4 or 5-Wire resistive touch or PCAP capacitive multi-touch. Different levels of brightness are available on industrial LCD monitors depending on whether it needs to be daylight readable or sunlight readable. When a kiosk is outdoors, it’s extremely important that the screen be readable in the sunlight and that the screen will not experience burning from direct UV sunlight. There’s a lot that goes into the construction of a high quality industrial LCD monitor, but the pace of life and the adoption of kiosks and touchscreens everywhere demands it. As consumers get more and more used to using them, businesses and retailers won’t be able to afford downtime on their computer systems. With something as handled as often as the touchscreen monitors are, cheap alternatives are just not a viable answer.

 

218tangent

Not a Monitor, An All-in-One Touchscreen

At a glance, the Tangent VITA 474 19” panel PC looks just like a nice monitor. Sure, it’s very slim, sleek and unassuming. One could very easily pass it by on a wall or desk and never imagine that it is a powerful, fully featured all-in-one touchscreen panel PC. It even goes beyond just PC features and incorporates popular tablet computer components like a front-facing camera, integrated HD audio, wifi connectivity and Bluetooth wireless. With the Windows 10 app store and android emulators, you can take advantage of the highly responsive touchscreen while running mobile apps. But that’s not to say the Vita is just an oversized tablet. This panel PC is an industrial grade workhorse that can operate 24/7, at extreme temperatures, and has no fan or other moving parts. The front panel is rated at an IP64 level of protection against dust, water on contaminant intrusion.

This panel PC’s hardware setup is customizable to suit the needs of business, be it as an infotainment station for customers and patients, an electronic medical records keeping computer, or as an in-room patient care system. It is offered with an Intel 6th Gen Core i5 or an Intel Celeron processor, an Intel Skylake chipset, up to 32GB of memory, an optional RFID module for easy login, and hard drive/SATA drive options with storage of up to 2TB. The VESA 75/100 mounting bracket and optional stand allows for versatile placement of the panel PC for nearly any desired place: walls, arms, desks, or in-vehicle. The touchscreen is a sensitive, but durable PCAP 10 point multi-touch with a non-glare LED backlit LCD. All these features are packaged up in a flat panel that is only 16lbs.

If 19” isn’t quite the size you’re looking for, Tangent offers industrial panel PCs that range from 15” to 24”. Tangent also has lines of panel PCs that are more rugged and sealed for use in harsh or highly sanitized environments. The S-series panel PC has an enclosure that is rated at an incredibly secure IP69k, meaning that it can withstand being washed with jets of high heat water. The F15 panel PC has a cast aluminum chassis that is ruggedized for use outdoors or on vehicles, and has function buttons on the front for one-handed operation. Even with specialized features like these, the panel PCs all still retain the same functionality as all-in-one computers and tablets as to be truly versatile systems.

industrial computer

Industrial Computers, Silent Workhorses

At first blush, a Tangent Rugged industrial computer looks strikingly like a massive CPU with no fan. The familiar heat dispersing fins and it’s diminutive size are quite deceiving in this way, but it truly is a fully featured industrial computer. Many of the PCs in the Rugged line, like the Rugged Tank, are fanless industrial computers that utilize passive cooling technology instead of a fan blowing on hot internal components. Passive cooling happens by way of heat dissipation as air flows over the unique and expertly designed heat sink that transfers warmth away from the internal computer components. This method is excellent for eliminating noise and internal dust build-up, as well as vastly reducing energy consumption.

industrial computer
Rugged Mini Tank

Another factor in noise reduction on these mini industrial computers is the option (and recommendation) for solid state hard drives as opposed to standard hard disc drives with a spinning disc. No fans and no moving disc parts equates to a much greater reliability, durability and service uptime. The lack of moving parts in the Rugged industrial computer also allows it to operate in extreme and fluctuating temperatures with ease. It works equally well in a refrigerated food processing plant or in a desert off-road rally race. That’s no joke either, the Rugged Tank industrial computer has been tested and rated to withstand consistent shock and vibration. It’s ideal for in-vehicle applications such as construction or farming vehicles, news vans, or industrial forklifts.

Being a fanless mini industrial computer doesn’t nearly suggest that it’s a slouch in terms of performance. Depending on one’s requirements, it can be customized to be a daily workhorse or a high powered workstation. Processors offered range from an Intel Celeron Dual-Core to an Intel i7 Quad-Core, and memory is offered at up to 16GB. It is equipped standard with either Windows 7 or Windows 10, and has TPM 1.2 and  RAID support. The petite industrial PC has an abundance of available I/O ports including three video outputs, six COM, six USB inputs, 2 LAN, WLAN, audio, and several others. As the name suggests, this little industrial computer is truly a formidable tank. Tangent’s Rugged mini PCs are powerful and effective in environments experiencing extreme temperature or constant shock and vibration, or spaces that require extreme cleanliness. From the precise and sterile to the dirty and industrial, Tangent has a computer solution to rise to the occasion.

Antimicrobial POS

AntiMicrobial POS Tablets for Restaurants

The American public is no stranger to fast food safety scares and widespread food poisoning events amongst even the most popular restaurants that boast freshness and quality.  Chipotle quickly comes to mind as a repeat offender. The most recent infraction was in August of 2018 when 220 verified reports involving 405 people who were rendered ill from eating at an Ohio Chipotle were submitted to the crowd-sourcing site iwaspoisoned.com. The critical violation was found to be inadequate maintenance of temperature control to prevent the growth of pathogens, mold and harmful bacteria. Proper washing of vegetables and leafy greens was another key factor as they can be a carrier for awful strains of bacteria like E.coli. Cleanliness of workstations and any food surface a worker touches also contributes greatly to a safe environment.

 

I happen to be a fan of Chipotle’s food, but on a few occasions have wondered how safe it was for their staff to handle food and then work the register as well. Computer equipment can be a hotbed of bacteria, especially when handled by several people in a warm environment. How safe are the POS (point of sale) tablets in a fast food restaurant? What other steps can be taken to prevent the spread of contaminants and pathogens?

 

The Tangent P10 industrial POS tablet was designed for the rigors of intensive use and cleaning. The front panel is rated at an IP54 level of protection, meaning that it can withstand low pressure water jets and spray without any damage to the POS tablet. Restaurant staff can wipe down the POS tablet with disinfectant wipes throughout the work day, and then spray it down during cleanup time for a more thorough sanitation. The P10 10” inch POS tablet itself is equipped with a smart card reading slot, a barcode scanner, a five megapixel camera, and triple-track MSR. The accompanying docking station features a wide array of I/O ports in a compact space to attach peripherals like a cash drawer, second monitor, or USB devices.

 

For an even higher level of pathogen protection, Tangent also offers medical grade tablets that can easily be used for POS purposes. The enclosure of the Medix T13 13” tablet is factory treated with an antimicrobial coating that prevents the spread of contamination and infection. Bacteria, mold, and microbial growth is stunted by the antimicrobial additives. The enclosure is also rated at an IP54, allowing it to be sprayed and wiped clean. Like the P10, the T13 medical (POS) tablet has a full-slot smart card reader and barcode reader, but this one also has an optional RFID reader. The T13 has an available desktop charging cradle for added I/O ports. For convenient mobile use, this medical grade tablet can be equipped with a hand strap and integrated stand.

 

There is a lot of responsibility that goes into offering customers a safe dining experience, and part of that is ensuring that restaurant equipment is clean and sanitary, including computer devices. Tangent’s line of industrial and medical grade tablets offer elevated levels of safety for a multitude of uses including POS (point of sale) transactions.