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CTIA roundup: New products for unwiring work and life

John Cox | May 29, 2013
Tiny Bluetooth trackers, rugged Android, protecting Wi-Fi outside.

The plastic housing was another challenge. The Chinese manufacturers they talked with said that at less than 0.3 mm the plastic would be too thin, and prone to break. StickNFind hit on the idea of making the bottom half of the case 0.2 mm but the top half, which could be popped open to replace the battery, at 0.3 mm.

Finally, was the decision about which adhesive to use. After meeting with 3M engineers in China, the company finally selected one that keeps the device firmly attached; but carefully pressing a knife blade between the StickNFind and the object will separate them.

Both consumer and enterprise versions will be available in June. Pricing hasn't been set for the enterprise product. Brookstone, the only publicly announced retail partner, will sell them in packs of two for $50 and of four for $90.

Caterpillar's newest rugged CAT smartphone
Through a licensing deal with UK-based Bullis Mobile Ltd., the heavy equipment builder, Caterpillar, has been offering ruggedized Android smartphones, under the CAT brand.

The newest one is the CAT B15, a 3G phone aimed at GSM networks. In the U.S., that would be AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile USA. Officially announced in February at Mobile World Congress, it's being introduced now to the U.S. market.

It offers the specs of a modest mid-range Android phone with one big difference:  you can safely abuse it and drown it, and you'll still have a working phone. It's aimed at everyone from mountain bikers to construction workers.

B15 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on a MediaTek MT6577 two-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, with 1GB memory and 4GB storage, which is expandable to 32GB with a micro SD card.

The 4-inch diagonal multi-touch screen, with Corning Gorilla Glass, has a 480 x 800 pixels resolution. The screen also supports what Bullis Mobile calls "wet finger tracking" if your hands and the screen are wet, the device can still "read" your touches and gestures.

The dimensions are: 4.92 inches high x 2.74 wide x 0.588 thick, weighing 5.99 ounces. Compared to the popular iPhone 5 that's pretty chunky:  4.87 inches x 2.31 x 0.30, weighing 3.95 ounces. The difference reflects the ruggedization: The B15 has silver anodized aluminum and shock absorbent rubber, designed to withstand repeated 5.9-foot drops to concrete. It's certified to the IP67 standard, "meaning the device is dustproof and waterproof," according to Bullis, and can be submerged in about three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

  • Other specs:
  • Camera: 5.0 MP rear; VGA at front;
  • 720P video recording at 30 FPS, and Codecs H.263, H.264/AVC, mpeg4/SP, VP8;
  • Talk time: Up to 9 hours;
  • Standby: Up to 9.5 days;
  • Connections: microUSB, microSD 32GB, 3.5mm audio;
  • And GPS: A-GPS mode.


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