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ARBOR Technology Gladius 5

Rugged 5.5-inch Android handheld device for IoT (Internet of Things) and more applications
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

ARBOR Technology, a Taiwan-based ISO-9001 certified embedded and networking manufacturer founded in 1993, announced the Gladius 5 in Summer 2014 as a general-purpose large-screen rugged Android handheld, and also as a building block for emerging IoT applications.

ARBOR calls the Gladius 5 (as well as the larger Gladius 8) "rugged IoT handheld devices," and that requires a bit of explanation:

IoT stands for "Internet of Things" and decribes a paradigm where the current internet communication between people or people with machines is extended to "things" communicating as well. "Things" refers to anything — such as homes, doors, wash machines, cars, subsystems, etc. — that, via sensors, can collect data and pass that data on for processing and action. The IoT infrastructure consists of four layers, those being a) sensors devices, b) IoT gateways that share and filter data, c) intelligent systems and networks that analyze and manage data, and then d) the cloud with IoT systems analysis and instant feedback, resulting in increased efficiency and reduced costs. Why is this a big thing? Because experts estimate some 50 billion IoT devices and many trillions of US dollars in increased revenue and reduced cost within the next ten years.

Where does the Gladius 5 fit in as a "handheld IoT device?" Both as a mobile sensor device and as an IoT gateway.

As a sensor device, the Gladius 5 uses its various data sensing and collection systems. Those include, on the data sensing side, an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, a 3-axis digital gyroscope, a barometer, and a digital compass. On the data collection side, the Gladius 5 employs an RFID/NFC reader, an industrial-grade 1D barcode reader or 1D/2D imager, as well as an 8mp auto-focus documentation camera (in addition to a 2mp frontal vidcam).

As a IoT gateway device, the Gladius 5 can aggregate its polled and collected data, filter it, do desired local processing, and then pass it on to higher level gateways and networks either via Bluetooth, WiFi or mobile broadband. Once the higher level intelligent systems and/or cloud-based big data and IoT apps have done their processing, the Gladius 5 may then receive real-time feedback for human or machine action.

In order to reliably fill its role as both a mobile sensor and gateway device, the Gladius must be tough enough to hold up to whatever conditions it may encounter in the field. To that end, the device carries IP65 sealing where the "6" stands for it being completely dustproof, and the "5" for the ability to handle low-pressure water jets from all directions. The Gladius can also handle 5-foot drops and operating temperatures between -4 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. ARBOR claims additional MIL-STD-810G testing, but we haven't seen a complete list yet. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.

In terms of technology, the Gladius 5 is powered by a 1GHz MediaTek MT6589 quad-core processor, which was one of the world's very first quad-core Cortex-A7 SoCs. The MT6589's ARM Cortex-A7 cores are complemented by a separate PowerVR SGX544 graphics processor that's in charge of parallel graphics acceleration. There's a gig of RAM and 8GB of storage in the form of a microSDHC card accessible from the battery compartment.

For wired connectivity, the Gladius 5 has micro-USB and headset ports on top of the device, to the left and right of the scanner window.

Power is provided by a 13.3 watt-hour battery good for about eight hours of operation. The battery is externally accessible and replaceable. Charging is via the microUSB port, and the Gladius 5 also supports Qi standard wireless charging either via desktop or vehicle wireless chargers (see Qi wiki). Very cool.

While in pictures the Gladius 5 looks like a smartphone, its 6.9 x 3.3 inch footprint and large 5.5-inch display really put it into the "phablet" category — larger than a phone but smaller than a tablet. It's 0.63 inches thick and weighs about 10 ounces, again between a smartphone and a small tablet (and actually no more than early Pocket PCs used to weigh).

The 5.5-inch display offers 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, which makes for a wide-format 16:9 aspect ratio, a razor-sharp picture, and enough screen real estate for work. The device, of course, uses projected capacitive multi-touch. The specs do not include a nits brightness rating, but do refer to an optional optically bonded display for enhanced sunlight readability.

In summary, with the Android-powered Gladius 5, ARBOR provides an interesting, elegant-but-rugged "phablet" handheld suitable for emerging Internet of Things projects, but also as a technologically advanced multi-purpose handheld for numerous warehousing, transportation, healthcare, mPOS and general industrial and enterprise deployments. -- C. Blickenstorfer, August 2014


ARBOR Technology Corp., founded in 1993, is a Taiwan-based designer and manufacturer of embedded and rugged computing products and services. The company has a worldwide sales and support network with offices located in China, the US, France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.
Specs ARBOR Gladius 5
Added/changed: Added 08/2014
Form-factor Rugged IoT handheld
Processor Quad-core Cortex A7 MediaTek MTK MT6589
CPU Speed 1.00 GHz
Graphics PowerVR Series5XT GPU
OS Android 4.2
Standard/Max RAM 1GB/1GB
Disk/drive 8GB
Card slots 1 x microSDHC Card, 2 x SIM card
Display type TFT with anti-reflective coating and Gorilla glass protection; optional optical bonding for sunlight readability
Display size/res 5.5-inch/XGA (1280 x 720 pixel); ?? nits
Digitizer/pens Projected capacitive multi-touch
Keyboard/scale Onscreen
Operating temperature -4° to 140°F (-20° to 60°C)
Sealing IP65
Vibration MIL-STD-810G testing
Shock MIL-STD-810G testing
Drop 26 5-foot drops
Size (WxHxD) 6.9 x 3.3 x 0.63 inches (176 x 84 x 16 mm)
Weight 9.9 oz. (280 grams) with battery
Power 3.7V, 3,600mAh 13.32 watt-hour ("up to 8 hours"), Qi standard wireless charge supported
Cameras Front: 2.0mp (not available if equipped with scanner), rear: AF 8.0mp with LED flash
Sensors Ambient light, digital compass, g-sensor, 3-acis gyroscope, barometer
Interface 1 x micro USB 2.0, audio in/out, dock
Interface 802.11b/g/n, Class 2 Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, NFC, UMTS/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA WWAN, GPS, A-GPS, 1D/2D imager with physical trigger
List price Starting at US$867
Web Gladius 5 web page
Brochure Gladius 5 brochure
ARBOR Gladius 5