Compass Creates Handheld, Wireless Reporting Tool
Posted for Compass Systems
By Jay Friess
You could be forgiven for thinking that the specifications for Compass Systems’ new OMNI tool are from some near-future version of an Android smartphone.
Like many Androids, the OMNI runs a variant of the open-source Linux operating system on a 600MHz processor with 512MB of RAM and up to 256GB of available flash storage. However, the sensor suite is quite a bit different.
The OMNI’s camera records high-resolution, 14-megapixel images, 720p high-definition video and audio with 14x digital zoom. Plugin modules for the unit include a thermal camera, chemical/biological weapons sniffer, night vision camera, bar code reader, and and RFID reader.
But what exactly is the OMNI? According to Kevin Holmboe, Compass’ project manager for the OMNI, the device is a “noun tracker.” If you need to know the location of a person, place or thing at a given scene, OMNI will help you do that. It can triangulate locations as well as the size and dimensions of buildings all while documenting them in living color. It can then transmit this information over Wi-Fi or LAN to a waiting computer network.
The OMNI can use its dual, high-precision Global Positioning System antennas , an internal magnetic compass and a laser range finder to always find its exact position in space as well as the position of most objects within a kilometer radius. Whereas most commercial GPS devices can pinpoint your location down to a few meters, the OMNI can do it within centimeters. It then uses Google Maps software to record locations and represent them on its 800×480 resolution, sunlight readable, color display.
“This is a collection and reporting tool,” said Mark Pinekenstein, CEO of Compass, a contractor based in Lexington Park, Maryland.
The device was designed for use by first-responders, Mr. Holmboe said, noting that Compass started developing it in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. “That’s a major swim lane,” he said, but he noted that it has direct applications for security preparation, asset management, border patrol, police investigation and construction.
Or it can track roadside bombs. The OMNI’s touch screen and stylus allows users to fill out forms using the device, meaning that ground troops can spot, record and then upload NATO reporting forms for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) using one rugged device.
The OMNI is not the first all-in-one reporting tool to hit the market, but it is the only portable, self-contained one. “We are truly handheld,” Holmboe said of Compass’ device, noting that it only weighs four pounds. The device case is made of rugged, lightweight aluminum, and it can last two to four hours on a swappable, rechargeable battery.
Customers can write their own forms and applications for the OMNI. “This is truly open architecture in terms of who and how you talk to things,” Mr. Holmboe said. “Tell us what you need it to do, and we’ll make it do it.”