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Bedside PC features capacitive multi-touch

Aug 6, 2010 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Poindus announced a panel PC designed to be a bedside terminal for hospital patients. Ready to support Fedora Linux, the “VariCura” has a 15-inch capacitive screen with multi-touch, a 1.3 megapixel camera, a phone that supports either POTS or VoiP, plus an optional barcode scanner, MSR (magnetic stripe reader), and smart card reader, the company says.

Poindus' new VariCura is poised smack dab in the middle of two hot trends. The first of these is the extension of capacitive multi-touch screens, first popularized by devices such as Apple's iPhone, to larger devices. (Recent predictions suggest capacitive screens will increasingly oust resistive models in public-facing systems such as POS systems, kiosks, and ATMs.)

The second trend is the provision of Internet-capable bedside terminals — increasingly coming to be expected as TV replacements — for hospital patients. We've recently seen Advantech, for example, spin two such devices in the form of the Windows-based PIT-1501W and PIT-1702.

The Poindus VariCura

The Advantech devices featured resistive touchscreens, but the new product from Poindus features projective capacitive technology, as we've already suggested. The VariCura (above) has a multi-touch screen that may be operated either with fingers or via gloved hands (see video later in this story). This screen only allows patients to use the system easily, but also lets nurses assist or look up information without causing contamination, the company says.

According to Poindus, the VariCura also features an overall anti-bacterial coating and a front panel that has been sealed to the IP66 standard. It's said the system may be disinfected with alcohol or cresol-based solutions (such as Lysol) without harm.

Poindus touts the VariCura as being especially suitable for elderly care centers, where the system's ease of use would provide mental stimulation and a method of communicating with relatives. In any medical setting, the device can provide email, web browsing, entertainment, telephony, and a means of summoning assistance, the company adds.

The VariCura includes a telephone handset that is usable either with VoIP or POTS (plain old telephone system). Thanks to the device's 1.3 megapixel webcam, video calling is also possible, Poindus adds.

Apparently envisioning that the VariCura might be used in public settings such as hospital cafeterias, Poindus offers options such as a MSR (magnetic stripe reader), smart card reader, fingerprint reader, RFID reader, and barcode scanner. The system is also said to include a 12VDC power output and RJ11 connector for a cash drawer.

Other I/O includes a gigabit Ethernet port, four RS232 ports (all of which can supply 5VDC or 12VDC power), a PS/2 connector, and four USB 2.0 ports, Poindus says. An internal pin header provides a fifth serial port for a card reader, and there's a Mini PCI Express expansion slot, too, the company says.

The VariCura's screen measures 15 inches diagonally, with a 250-nit brightness rating and a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The device's processor, meanwhile, can be either a single-core Intel Atom D410 or a dual-core D510, backed by the ICH8-M I/O controller and up to 2GB of DDR2 memory.

According to Poindus, mass storage for the VariCura is catered for via a 2.5-inch bay that accepts any standard SATA devices. Supported operating systems are said to include both Fedora Linux and a variety of Windows variants.

Features and specifications listed by Poindus for the VariCure include the following:

  • Processor — Intel Atom D410 or D510 clocked at 1.66GHz
  • Chipset — ICH8-M
  • Memory — Up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM via single SODIMM slot
  • Expansion — Mini PCI slot
  • Storage — 2.5-inch SATA hard disk drive
  • Display — 15-inch capacitive touchscreen with 1024 x 768 resolution and 250-nit brightness rating
  • Keys — wired telephone handset
  • Camera — 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • smart card reader (optional)
    • RFID reader (optional)
    • magnetic stripe reader (optional)
    • barcode reader (optional)
    • 4 x USB
    • 4 x RS232
    • 1 x PS/2
    • 1 x parallel (optional)
    • 1 x VGA (optional)
    • 1 x cash drawer (RJ11)
  • Power requirements — 12VDC via external 72-Watt power supply
  • Operating temperature — 32 to 104 deg. F (0 to 40 deg. C)
  • Dimensions — 16.1 x 13.22 x 2.24 inches (409 x 336 x 57mm)
  • Weight — 13.22 pounds (6kg)

The VariCura's multi-touch screen
(click to play)

Further information

Poindus did not cite pricing or availability for the VariCura, but the device appears to be available now. More information may be found on the company's website, here.

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