The world of the tablet is a fascinating one. Here we have this incredible technology (one that we've seen since the ‘90s — thanks to Star Trek and other sci-fi shows) that's being used for not much more than social interaction, email, and web surfing. Oh sure, there are a select few making better use of these handy tools, but the opportunity offered by tablet hardware is seriously overlooked. So, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to outline industries, jobs, and/or uses for tablets that make such perfect sense, I can't believe we haven't seen them pop up yet!
It always amazes me to see doctors and nurses walking around with clipboards and paper forms that contain patient records and questionnaires. With software available for medical record keeping, as well as outstanding tools for note taking, why aren't we seeing tablets infecting medical practices? What I like about this idea is the ability of the doctor or nurse to not only take notes but also look up patient history and get help with diagnosises. This could be taken even further to allow doctors to automatically upload prescriptions to pharmacies for patients.
Why is the food industry still stuck in the ‘50s? Tablets would be a perfect way to modernize the entire system. Instead of servers writing down orders on paper (or trying to remember them), they could carry a tablet and punch in the order to a web-based system, which would then immediately send the order directly to the chef. A system like this would also enable the staff to check out patrons much more quickly and accurately. Although this idea might be a financial challenge for smaller or lower-scale restaurants, more up-scale establishments would do well to take on this challenge. Not only would it make everything more efficient, it would also look really good to the patrons.
Teaching is probably one of the most under-appreciated professions we have. And teachers around the United States are suffering from serious budget cuts and lack of tools to do their jobs. From my perspective, tablets could do teachers a world of good. How? Easy — grading, communicating to the main office, research, multi-media control, notes, attendance, and more. But tablets could just as easily benefit the students by allowing easier collaboration, web-based testing, and making use of alternative learning methods. Education and tablets should be a no-brainer.
Emergency Medical Technicians rely on efficiency, speed, and having information immediately. What better way to enable them to have everything they need to help, schedule, and communicate than giving them tablets? With the right software installed, the EMT could even quickly communicate vitals and other information directly to the target hospital's database, so a patient would be automatically admitted upon arrival. Think of the paperwork and time that would save!
Imagine being in a store like Target, approaching an employee, asking if they have any more stock of an item, and that employee being able to inform you right then and there that, yes, they do have more of Product X in the back. Wouldn't that be fantastic? But the advantages of retail employees having tablets goes well beyond assisting consumers. Having a tablet in the hand would help make inventory control easier, as well as keeping the employees informed and up to date.
Recently, we had to have a cable technician come out to take care of our crappy high def reception (it's still not fixed, Insight — after the fourth technician). Then last technician brought at least four different tools in with him. All of those tools could have been replaced by a single tablet (with the addition of proprietary software installed).
Here's an interesting fact: The amount of paper the FAA requires for every commercial flight (manuals, pre-flight check lists, etc.) is over twenty-five pounds. Now, there are some airlines testing pilots carrying tablets. But why not extend this to stewards to aid them in taking drink/food orders? Enabling all flight staff to have information at their finger tips makes perfect sense.
I good friend of mine is a mobile DJ. He uses his Apple laptop to run music for weddings, but this doesn't allow him to step away from the DJ booth much. Although the weight of the Apple hardware isn't terribly significant, it's not nearly as portable as a tablet. Getting the software necessary to run music on a tablet would be negligible at most. The benefits of having this technology in these types of situations are many. Imagine that bride motioning you to her table and requesting a song that you don't have. With tablet in hand, you can download the song and fire it up instantly. Now, that would bring serious business to the mobile DJ.
There are plenty more fields that could benefit from tablet technology. Can you think of some not mentioned here? Please share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.