Thinking Forward – Thinking Mobility

myVR has been a part of Hexagon since May 2012, and it has been an interesting and exciting introduction period. With our background in creating mobile technologies for the distribution and viewing of map-centric data for the consumer world, we have targeted various devices to a huge number of users with very different skill levels, and we have learned a few things along way. In this blog post, it is my intention to share some of these with you.

Today, as we are using a wide range of devices (e.g., PCs, tablets, smartphones or laptops) with various form factors and performances, we tend to have the same expectations of data access and functionality across all platforms to be available at any time. For example, you may prepare for your day in the field on your PC or laptop in the office, but you only want to bring a tablet or smartphone with you out on the field. You expect to have access to the same data and same functionality, even if you’re switching from a keyboard- or mouse-driven device to a device with a touchscreen only input, with a screen that is one-tenth of the one you used in the office and less computing power.  We call this experience “the liquid experience.”

To be able to provide you with “the liquid experience” across platforms and form factors, we have to take a different design approach for the technology and solutions.

When thinking mobility, the underlying technology for accessing and displaying all your GIS centric data must be created with a “mobility first” approach, where mobility is the key design and development focus. A mobile device has a number of limitations, such as an available screen size, input options, battery life, connectivity limitations or even loss of connectivity during use, etc.  To ensure that these limitations are turned to our advantage, the “mobility first” approach is a key technical design element.

The next step is to define the use cases. The majority of today’s desktop-based GIS solutions have a huge set of functions, and in most cases specifically, it’s an “expert tool” and not for all the other “non-experts.” Today, more of these “non-experts” would benefit greatly from accessing GIS data with useful tools designed just for them. To make these tools useful and available for “non-experts,”  a clever interactive design is needed,  including carefully selecting what kind of functional subsets are best solved in the field, combined with a clear distinction between need to have and nice to have. This is what defines whether the solution will be a success or not seen from the user’s perspective. With this approach, we can create better, higher valued solutions, while increasing the use of GIS-related data and users.

Over the years, we have seen a number of attempts to bring desktop solutions to a mobile device. However, unless you approach the problem as described above, the chance for success is limited.

The myVR team has been involved for a period of time in the upcoming Hexagon Hydrology Overall (H2O) Solution. More specifically, myVR has been involved on the mobile side of the H2O Solution, where this has been the approach for a few months.  The mobile side of the H2O Solution is starting to become a very interesting app solution/framework, which over time, will evolve into useful mobile solutions within Hexagon that will seriously enhance the value of your GIS data and the field service tasks.

Bringing mobility to the forefront through expert GIS solutions – that’s shaping change.

Rune Fjellvang
@myVR Software

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