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The future of tablet computers on the farm

Agri ImaGIS Technologies, Fargo, North Dakota, now is developing software for smartphones, notebooks and even the iPad. It has worldwide sales through, and still operates as a family business.

“We’re seeing farmers getting more smartphones. They run the Web through the phone. Lots have map storage and applications,” says Nathan Faleide, spokesperson and son of founder, Lanny Faleide.  

“Some new smartphones are in the order of 10 times more powerful than the controller in the tractor cab. Any tablet computer that uses an app could run all the controls of your tractor through your smartphone, in theory.”

Given time, he believes the tablet computer may become more powerful and be a better device than a notebook or netbook because of the built-in GPS, weba connectivity and size.

“We actually can run our program now on the iPad, and other tablets, through the web browsers. Anything with web connectivity can access our data and mapping program now. Everyone else is Windows-based and can’t run on the tablets, yet.” 

Agri ImaGIS is working on new apps (software applications) for the field.

For instance, Agri ImaGIS is getting ready to release a low-cost field scouting application for Android smartphones in Spring 2011.

The new application will be able to bring up a field map or satellite photo of a field, pinpoint locations while in the field, then attach text, photos or perhaps voice messages to those GPS points. The digital field notes can be forwarded for consultation.

Later versions are planned for Apple’s mobile operating system.

“We’re doing lots of work with mobile devices. They’re powerful, and they’re in everybody’s hands,” Faleide says.

Things are changing quickly.

At press time, Faleide added, “Until now, AT&T didn't cover much of the Midwest. Now with its acquisition of Alltel in the Midwest, the iPhone and iPad connectivity will come to most ag areas. In the coming months, and almost everywhere (in the Midwest), service will be available soon for either Android or Apple phones."

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