When Zebra introduced the world’s first, “no host,” all-in-one wearable enterprise Android™ mobile computer in March, the crowd went wild! And by crowd, I mean…
everyone who spends their days repetitively scanning barcodes as they pick and put away items, move carts and more and would really benefit from a hands-free device.
the people whose job it is to make front-line workers’ jobs easier (so they can more efficiently – and merrily – check off tasks on their to-do lists).
Social media was buzzing, web traffic jams were happening, and people I spoke to around the world were energized about what the Zebra WS50 meant for enterprise mobility, business optimization, customer satisfaction and even robotics automation. This device was bound to make the work environment better for front-line workers, and happy employees are loyal employees.
That’s right. The WS50 design and engineering teams didn’t just consolidate mobile computing and scanning capabilities into a wearable. They gave independent software vendors like Ivanti Wavelink a blank slate upon which to create applications that would solve real-world problems and elevate the front-line worker experience.
If anyone was questioning whether a 2-inch wearable could really offer a comparable (much less, better) experience than a full-size handheld computer, the team at Ivanti removed any doubt.
What the Ivanti team has done with Velocity Terminal Emulation (TE) on the WS50 is extraordinary. It’s also just the start of their front-line problem-solving spree.
I recently caught up with Alex Evans, Vice President of Product Management at Ivanti Wavelink, a Zebra Independent Software Vendor (ISV), to find out some of the many ways the Ivanti team is making the WS50 invaluable to manufacturing, warehousing, distribution center, and retail workers. (Spoiler alert: there are robots involved!)
Dan: In May, Ivanti published a blog post calling the WS50 “hot.” Ivanti’s Chief Evangelist Paul “Norf” Norford then released a video in July announcing that Ivanti Wavelink Velocity framework, also known as the Zebra All-Touch TE, has been redesigned for the WS50. Obviously, you and your team were some of the ones cheering the arrival of the WS50. Why do you feel this wearable is so special?
Alex: For decades, Ivanti Wavelink’s TE client has been the global leading TE solution for Zebra’s portfolio of mobile computers. So, we were excited to see this new, cutting-edge form factor of the WS50 as it gives front-line workers the freedom to stay connected to important data as they move throughout a facility. This device is lightweight, and users barely know they are wearing it. Plus, on this platform, Ivanti Wavelink can provide access to mission critical applications – but in a user interface (UI) that is easy to read and drives workers through the process. We think it will be a winner in the warehouse!
Dan: We know a mobile device is only as valuable as the software running on it, as the device doesn’t guide workers through tasks. It’s just the communication vehicle for the intelligent task management systems and human conversations that drive actions and inform decisions – all of which are only possible with the right software. So, tell us about what you did to migrate the Velocity TE application to the WS50 and ultimately improve upon the user experience.
Alex: Our Velocity platform is transformable and can easily be optimized for the WS50’s 2” screen. While a typical mobile productivity solution might be hard to see on that size of screen, our modernization engine can present the user with only the critical information associated with the task. And, through this optimization, which includes contextual keyboards, big keys are presented to the user – minimizing errors and driving productivity. Ivanti Velocity also allows for a traditional screen to be broken up into individual WS50 screens so data fields are highlighted, and data points are very easily communicated.
Dan: Organizations can also load the Ivanti Speakeasy software onto the WS50 to offer employees a voice-guided work experience as well, right?
Alex: Yes, Velocity Speakeasy has been validated by Zebra for the WS50. As a wearable, the WS50 is an ideal platform for voice picking solutions – enabling the user to have both hands free – which can drive user productivity and safety. Just add a Zebra HS3100 headset and you have all the hardware needed for a leading-edge, voice-directed picking solution.
Dan: I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon, but I’ve seen the Zebra WS50 and Ivanti Speakeasy combo used by people to coordinate actions with Fetch autonomous mobile robots. What’s the scoop on that?
Alex: Wavelink’s core value proposition has always been providing the interface between a Zebra device and a variety of warehouse management systems (WMS). There are 17 million devices using our client today! And Zebra’s Fetch autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are no exception. We’re hearing from the field that the biggest issue when deploying AMRs is getting the robot to communicate with the WMS. So, Velocity TE now serves as the interface between our customers’ deployed Fetch robots and their WMS. This enables them to take advantage of all the benefits that Fetch robots provide with almost zero integration requirements to enable this technology.
Dan: I believe the potential use cases for the WS50 are endless, simply because the barcode is still so fundamental to every industry, and I can’t think of a front-line worker who wouldn’t benefit from hands-free task guidance and communications capabilities. But I’m curious how you think this is going to be used most by front-line workers?
Alex: Velocity provides many options for the WS50. Whether the customer is running TE or web, we can optimize the application for interaction with the 2” screen. WS50 users are going to be the workers who are doing case and each picks, which means they’re always going to be very mobile. The WS50 is ideal for those use cases, as it’s a lightweight wearable and easy to use. That said, we believe that this next generation wearable device is also ideally suited for voice-directed picking. With Speakeasy, Zebra and Ivanti Wavelink can change the way voice is used in the warehouse.
Dan: Is there a potential use case that may not be obvious but should be looked at more closely?
Alex: There are a lot of other tasks that happen in a warehouse that may still be paper based or require some kind of institutional knowledge in order to progress. For example, dealing with damaged goods in receiving or forklift safety checklists. The WS50, when running Velocity tailored for the screen size, provides an ideal tool to complete these tasks. And Velocity TE provides the capability to integrate separate operations into the flow of the material movements to capitalize on events as they happen and guide workers through these events.
If you’d like to get a free demo of the Zebra WS50 running the Velocity TE, contact Ivanti Wavelink to get it scheduled.