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.

serial ports blog

Serial Ports, A Dated Yet Necessary Feature

Serial Ports, An Included Legacy Component

With as much new technology that Tangent packs into their all-in-one medical computers, one does not expect to see any sort of legacy components included. However, if you look at the I/O ports on the back of the Tangent M24T medical computer, something surprising is present: three RS-232 DB9 ports. For those of us that are not polished up on our knowledge of every serial port that ever existed, the RS-232 is a standard computer serial port for communication that dates back about five decades, and was used for a wide array of purposes like connections to modems, printers, mice, data storage, circuit protection, connectors, optoelectronics, passive components, uninterrupted power supplies, and more. This is all fine and dandy, but the questions still stand. What are serial ports from the 60s doing on new computers? What does this have to do with medical standards? Why don’t they just solely use USB?

Well, simply put, medical devices have varying ways of providing data to computers. Most still have uncomplicated serial ports, while newer ones have HDMI, ethernet or USB ports, depending on the protocol being used for communication.  A true medical computer needs to be able to fit the requirements of each medical device it’s connected to, as well as the clinical workflows of the medical facility and that particular care center’s IT environment. And the old RS-232 interface is an attractive alternative to the more temperamental digital interfaces for many medical device manufacturers because it’s robust, consistent, and easy to use. The adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” applies heavily for the serial port standards in a great number of devices. Tangent’s dedication to providing convenience and value to medical care providers led to the inclusion of the trusted legacy ports. The M24T medical computer is able to connect to a kidney monitoring device, an ultrasound device, and a patient monitor using the serial ports, and still have 6 USB ports and an HDMI port free for other uses.

All the newer, fancy bells and whistles are bundled up into this incredible medical computer as well. It features a 24 inch PCAP touchscreen monitor, an Intel 6th generation Core i Series, fast memory up to 32GB, and high-performance NVMe storage. The M24T medical computer also has fanless cooling by way of heat pipes, it’s own internal speakers, and optional webcam and RFID. The medical computer has an uninterrupted power supply battery for up to 30 minutes of operation during a power loss event, and of course, is factory treated with an antimicrobial coating to ward off the spread of infection from bacteria or mold.

It’s easy to dismiss older technology as useless and disposable, but in the medical world, efficiency and consistency in the face of emergency situations often wins out over the new and questionable. Yes, strides are being made to upgrade older hospital systems to modern standards, but change in these sorts of environments can be slow. With so many devices still relying on legacy ports, it makes sense that medical computers still cater to their needs.

Is RFID Safe?

Is RFID Safe?

RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology has been found to generate considerable cost savings and increase efficiency in a variety of sectors like supply chain management, asset management, and information technology departments due to its ability to capture data without any human intervention.

 

Utilizing RFID in healthcare has been explored with great interest in recent years not only because of a legislative mandate to use new technology in healthcare, but for its potential to benefit patient safety, provide accurate patient and asset tracking, and enhance efficiencies in patient care. For example, RFID systems can identify medical staff, patients, medications, and blood sampling data all in real time.

 

The adoption of RFID in hospitals has been somewhat slow due to questions about data security, privacy, and concerns about radio frequency interruption due to older infrastructure in many facilities. However, apprehension about these risks largely stem from unfamiliarity with the technology and poor implementation strategies. These issues can be mitigated with in-depth analyses of risk/benefits, return on investment analyses, extensive testing prior to implementation, educating staff on the technology and its benefits, and taking steps for appropriate security measures to ensure patient privacy.

 

Tangent is well aware of the national mandate from the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Clinical Health) Act of 2015 to implement new health information technology and improve healthcare delivery. With that, they aim to stay at the forefront of technology that can be integrated into their medical devices.

medixt13

An excellent example is the Tangent Medix T13  medical tablet PC. This tablet is packed with a treasure trove of useful features for only being 13” inches. The enclosure is factory treated with a medical grade antimicrobial coating and is rated at an IP54 level of protection against contaminant or liquid ingress into the unit. The touchscreen is a PCAP multitouch, the computer’s Ultramobile processor can be an Intel Core i7, i5, or Celeron, and the unit has TPM 2.0 support.

 

The Medix medical tablet has a full-slot smart card reader and SD card readers. This allows for clocking in, secure logging in to the system, accepting payments and a great number of other uses with a card. An optional barcode scanner can allow for scanning of medications or patient wristbands. A  desktop charging cradle, wall and vehicle mounting accessories, and a handheld wrist strap for the T13 medical tablet provide numerous ways to interact with the device.

And keeping with the topic of this blog entry, an optional RFID reader in the T13 medical tablet allows hospital staff to identify, track, and retrieve data on most anything in the facility.

 

As hospitals and clinics are urged to adopt newer technologies by governing bodies, it’s important for providers to stay ahead of the curve on offering these features in their computing devices. Tangent’s mission is to provide medical care providers all the tools they need to give the best care and to stay up-to-date  with regulations and recommendations. When implemented correctly, technologies like RFID can create highly visible benefits to both patients and care facilities.

 

Antimicrobial Screens

The Antimicrobial Screen Advantage

Any surface can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and that is a particularly troubling fact when it comes to health compromised patients in hospitals. The CDC’s website states that about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.  Devices that are touched by both patients and doctors, like medical equipment and computers, can pose a significant risk of spreading contagions. Unlike a doorknob or a handrail, consumer computers and devices are sensitive to harsh cleaning and being exposed to liquids and abrasive cleaners.

 

Your standard LCD monitor is not protected against liquid ingress and will malfunction upon contact with it.  Luckily, antimicrobial surface treatment technology has become quite advanced and companies like Tangent are producing medical grade LCD monitors that are not only treated with antimicrobial coatings, they are also protected against water damage so that they may be appropriately cleaned in line with hospital regulations.

 

Antimicrobial surfaces mainly work to suppress the growth of bacteria and harmful microorganisms, and stop the spread of microbes. In addition to deterring bacteria, germs and molds, the coating also minimizes stains and degradation of plastic on the surfaces they are applied to. Antimicrobial agents come in a variety of types like chlorhexidine, ammonium compounds, and silver.  

Medical-Monitor

Tangent’s flagship 22 inch medical LCD monitor has a cast aluminum chassis, is factory treated with an antimicrobial additive to battle surface contamination, and is rated an an IP65 protection level against dust, cleaning liquids and water. Because of big initiatives to improve in sanitation, prevention, care quality, and overall awareness, data from CDC’s hospital healthcare-associated infection prevalence surveys show significant reductions in overall healthcare-associated infection prevalence and central line prevalence between 2011 and 2015. And speaking of the CDC, Tangent’s medical LCD monitor is EN60601-1 certified to be compliant with CDC guidelines for environmental infection control and isolation precautions.

 

This 22″ LED backlit medical LCD monitor features a 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen display, a PCAP 2-point touchscreen, and on screen display buttons for power, brightness, and auto tune. A variety of mounting options like point of care carts, movable arms, or desktop stands are possible with the VESA 75 mounting bracket. The Tangent medical LCD monitor also comes with integrated speakers, a feature not often seen on a monitor. With the success of antimicrobial agents on medical devices to help prevent the spread of pathogens in clinical settings, the technology is now being sought for use in a wider setting like businesses and homes. Wherever the demand may be, Tangent’s medical grade LCD monitor is up to the task.