At SEMA Ford unveiled its new mobile office system – the marriage of “Built Ford Tough” brawn with Microsoft and Stargate Mobile brains to create the ultimate work truck for contractors.
The foundation of the new mobile office package, which is featured in the California Custom “General Contractor” F-250 Super Duty built for SEMA, is a GPS, wireless broadband, printer and digital camera-equipped mobile computer that will allow a contractor to bid jobs, order and purchase parts and materials, and process payments while ‘on location’ from their truck.
The Ford mobile office system is in development for inclusion as a dealer-installed accessory through the “Genuine Ford Accessories” program in 2006.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity with Stargate Mobile and Microsoft,” says Marty Collins, general marketing manager for the Ford brand. “F-Series is all about getting the job done, and this new mobile office technology will fit our truck owners’ needs to be on the go as their business demands.”
The Ford mobile office utilizes technology that is readily available and user-friendly, yet uniquely packages and tests it to meet the demands of the “Built Ford Tough” trucks.
The Stargate Mobile computer is a rugged lightweight touch-screen slate model mounted on the transmission tunnel within easy reach of the driver. Once the computer is securely mounted in its vehicle cradle, it is powered by the truck’s battery and is directly connected to optional equipment including GPS antenna, printer, credit card scanner, or digital camera.
The driver can remove the touch-screen computer and take it with him or her just as an ordinary laptop, but it isn’t hampered by the unnecessary weight of a keyboard, unless that optional attachment is necessary. The lightweight, versatile slate design is also constructed to withstand the typical use on a job-site, including the occasional drop onto a dirt parking lot. It features a screen that is visible in sunlight, so that several workers can huddle around for an impromptu meeting viewing blueprints or online order tracking.
“We designed the hardware platform to be rugged, lightweight and built to industry standards,” said John Cooper, president of Stargate Mobile. “Teaming up with Ford and Microsoft has helped deliver a truly innovative system that benefits a hardworking customer base.”
The slate model computer offers full Windows XP Professional functionality with all the power of a full-size desktop computer whenever and wherever you need it, allowing the driver in-vehicle, finger-tip access to the familiar programs of the Windows XP-based PC.
“Working together with Ford and Stargate Mobile, we are unveiling a customer-centric solution that meets the needs of a marketplace very much on the move,” said Patty Dilger, director, Automotive and Industrial Equipment Industry Vertical at Microsoft. “Innovative hardware and software solutions continue to drive new scenarios for the automotive community. The long-term commitment by Microsoft and its partners continues to enable users to explore different ways of using their PC bringing innovative solutions like the Ford mobile office to life.”
In addition, the mobile computer is always online via a broadband wireless cellular card, giving the driver full access to the internet using Microsoft Office Professional capabilities, including Outlook for email, Streets and Trips 2006 for real-time navigation, and Internet Explorer for web browsing.
“With the Ford Mobile Office, you don’t have to be tied to your desk. You don’t even need a desk,” continues Collins. “This system is very user-friendly and properly packages the technology for ease-of-use for the contractor or business-owner that travels to multiple work sites.”
California Custom Sport Trucks of Ft. Lauderdale, FL created the “General Contractor” F-250 Super Duty as the showcase for the Ford mobile office technology. Besides the mobile office system, the truck features an array of modifications that would make heading to work in the morning a dream to look forward to. They include a Fabtech 6-inch suspension lift kit, aggressive Weld Wheels with BF Goodrich tires, and a pickup bed that is packed with a traveling shop full of equipment that every contractor needs to get the job done right.