Handheld Computing

PDAs and mobile phones encompass a range of technologies and functionality but generally focus on the core deliverables of hand-held computing. Typically they include features such as a screen, battery power, user input devices, external memory storage and in the case of a phone, mobile communications. A commonly recognised PDA is the Compaq iPAQ, although virtually all of the smart phones currently on the market also represent a PDA style device as they offer functionality such as games, e-mail, diaries and calendars.

The development of a PDA relates specifically to its intended use. A product like the iPAQ has a relatively wide range of uses and hence functionality, whereas a mobile phone is obviously focused around its telephony functionality, or a product such as a hand-held stock control device will be specific to its application needs. Another important aspect of PDAs is that they are often as much defined by the software they run as they are by the hardware used. Imagine trying to use a mobile phone with no menu structure.

With the majority of PDA devices available today using an ARM microprocessor, Bluewater is the ideal company to develop these types of products. In this regard we have developed a number of PDA units and have included mobile communications (GPRS) in a number of these designs.

Product Showcase (RTS)

This PCB and associated product was designed to specifically operate as both a hand-held and vehicle mounted device for the management of stock in one of Australasia’s largest cold storage companies. The unit has a bright 240 x 160 colour LCD display, and the hardware supports a vehicle-mount 800 x 400 colour display also.

In developing this PDA solution we are able to design all of the hardware aspects such as battery power and charging, external storage and data output /processing functionality onto a single PCB. Data input such as keyboards, buttons and touchscreens were then connected directly to this board with everything being housed in a robust unit.

The design used an Intel PXA255 processor which at the time of design gave the PDA the same level of processing power as a Compaq iPAQ. In addition to creating the hardware for the unit we ensured that a stable Linux operating system was established and in other projects have developed application software to run on the units.