So here you are trying to keep up with the ever-changing technology and you recently started to collect your data digitally though your smart phone or tablet device. Beside all of the great advantages that this change has, you will probably quickly realize a few not so great things. The battery can drain quickly when the device is constantly being used. The more you use your mobile device, the more prone you are to dropping and damaging it. The built in GPS is not as accurate as you would like, and not functional in very remote locations. The goal of this blog post is to provide Fulcrum users some tips to these problems.
Maximize battery life
Out of all the problems, short battery life is probably the most common. Spending long days away from a power outlet or vehicle can leave you with little to no battery power on your smart device. Data collection done on your cell phone makes this even more of an issue. Here are some simple steps you can take to help retain power throughout the day.
- Features like Bluetooth and WiFi are great but if you are not using it then it is unnecessarily draining your battery. Turn these features off when they are not in use.
- If you are going to be working in a remote place where you know you will not have a data signal, turn off you data connection. Important Note: I would not recommend simply turning on airplane mode, because this mode turns off the internal GPS.
- Close any apps running in the background. For iOS devices (iPhone/iPad/iPod), double-click the Home button to view the multitasking bar. Then tap-and-hold on an app icon until they start to wiggle. The close icon appears for each app. Now just tap the close icons on all of the apps running in the background. For Android devices – go to settings, applications, then manage applications. Then tap on the app and select force stop. There are also third party apps that have auto-kill features.
- Let your smart device go into a standby mode when not in use.
- Lower the brightness settings. This may work for you since most data collection is done outside during daylight hours. You maybe able to get away with lowering your brightness settings a little.
- Adjust the fetching frequency of apps on your mobile device. The more apps you have that periodically go and fetch data on the internet, the more battery power will be consumed.
- Purchase a battery backup. They are available for pretty much every Android and iOS device out there. Backup battery packs allow users to charge their device in the field when not near a vehicle or power outlet.
Protect your device
Protecting your smart device can often be overlooked when first purchasing a device. If you have ever dropped your phone or tablet and had the screen spiderweb with cracks, then you probably learned the lesson the hard way. Mobile devices can get pretty expensive, so spending a little extra money for a good quality case should be a simple choice. When using a mobile device to do work, the cost of the device is not the only thing you should consider when and if the device breaks. Time lost not working and potential data loss should also be considered.
- If you are looking for that truly rugged case then I personally would recommend the Defender series case made by Otterbox. If you are a iPad or Motorola Zoom user then you can add a little bit of utility to your smart device with the utility series latch.
Increase the reliability and accuracy of the devices GPS
The accuracy and reliability of the internal GPS in mobile devices is probably one of the most overlooked issues a mobile data collector faces. While the GPS on most devices are pretty good, there are instances where they can be non-functioning and unreliable. To eliminate these problems a external GPS receiver will ensure that you have to make far less geo-position corrections and that you get the best reliability available.
There are a lot of different options available on the market. Some units connect directly to the device and are generally powered by the mobile device. Others have their own internal batteries and utilize Bluetooth technology to stay connected. A personal favorite is the newly released Garmin GLO GPS. This device will last up to 12 hours on a single charge, as well as having the ability to utilize both the U.S. GPS and Russia GLONASS satellite systems.
These are just a few ways to optimize mobile data collection. For all of those actively in the field, we would love to hear your ideas and contributions. Please post your feedback and let us know what works for you.