Automated Form Filling and the Data Integration Environment
Mi-Forms Data Capture Solutions are the most flexible and proven enterprise solution available.
As mobile technology evolves, more and more complex business processes will be pushed into the hands of front-line employees. Mi-Co’s philosophy of developing one, open code-base for maximum flexibility and integration is why our solutions are leading the industry. Whether you need to read DoD smart card data, ensure data quality with barcodes, or capture RFID data, Mi-Forms can easily build a form to capture and upload this rich data.
Two key advantages of our open approach are:
- Flexibility – The Mi-Forms system can be used in a number of hardware scenarios: with Tablets, Digital Pens, Smart phones, Traditional PCs, Signature Capture Pads, or any combination of these. See Mi-Forms Supported Devices for more information.
- Integration – Mi-Forms supports and integrates with a wide variety of hardware and software in the mobile data capture environment. Mi-Co is often first to embrace new technology. For example, Mi-Forms started supporting Bluetooth in 2000. See Mi-Forms Data Integration for more information.
Mi-Forms integrates with a number of technologies that allow for automated form filling.
Background: The barcode was an early entry in presenting information in a visual format that was machine readable. Originally barcodes stored data in the widths and spaces of printed parallel lines, but now data is also stored in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and hidden in images. Barcodes are generally read by optical scanners (barcode readers).
Many Mi-Co customers use barcodes to read the information that is then included into a Mi-Forms application. Mi-Co enabled this ability by treating barcode information as a “data type” within a form so that automated form filling using barcode data would be transparent to the user. Therefore, customers gathering information from 1D or 2D barcodes can scan for the information needed and incorporate that data directly into the form. This allows the application to send the barcode information with the other data captured using the Mi-Forms data path technologies to any back-end process desired.
2. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
Background: RFID, which first appeared in the 1980s, is technology for the recognition of objects without having to make contact. A small computer chip is the heart of this technology. The chip has a miniature antenna and when the chip receives the radio signal from a reading device, it automatically transmits the stored identifying data wirelessly. Transmission is based on radio frequencies.
Because of its ability to track moving objects, RFID has established itself in a wide range of markets such as livestock identification and vehicle identification systems. Since Mi-Co applications are mobile in nature, often Mi-Forms and RFID are being used together in an application. The data from an identification chip is transmitted to the reading device. This data can be sent directly into a form designed in Mi-Forms or included in a database or back-end process being used by the Mi-Forms application. Automatically filling Mi-Forms with RFID data ensures high data quality involving the identification of specific objects, and this information can be used effectively in business rules built into any Mi-Forms data collection form.
3. GPS (Global Positioning System)
Background: GPS, called NAVSTAR GPS in military circles, is a method to determine geographical coordinates and time using signals from a network of satellites. The precision of the location information is quite high and is used in a number of enterprise and transportation applications.
Mi-Co began working with integrating GPS data with a Mi-Forms application in a presentation to the US Census Bureau. In this application, GPS information on the location of the individual conducting the survey was incorporated into the form that Mi-Forms sent to the database. This provides detailed information on the actual location of an individual when the data is being captured. This information can be used for monitoring the process and increasing the quality of the data. For applications that involve the tracking of specific objects and their location over time, the combination of automated form filling using RFID data as well as GPS data provides a perfect combination in the workflow process.
4. Smart Cards
Background: Big in other parts of the world, smart-card applications are gaining traction in the US. A typical smart card is a plastic card about the size of a standard credit card that contains an embedded microchip. This embedded microchip can store, retrieve, or encrypt the data.
On the military’s use of the technology as noted in an article in Military Information Technology, On Line Edition:
“Observers believe that the card—particularly its chip-based “smart card” functionality—will not only change the way the military secures its physical and network assets, but could also reverberate throughout American society with an impact comparable to the earlier DoD project that eventually became the Internet.”
With Mi-Co’s list of government accounts, the need to integrate with smart card technology is apparent. Mi-Forms provides integration with smart card technology at both the form level (as input into a specific form session) or at the database level.
Automated form-filling using smart cards (or CAC cards as they are known in the military) can be combined in a Mi-Forms application with database queries to ensure that the smart card, or Army CAC card, is being used as authorized to reduce abuse.
5. Digital Images
Images as a form of data have always been important to Mi-Forms applications. For example, incorporating pictures and images into a Mi-Forms data stream can enhance the business impact of virtually all inspection applications.
Because of the importance of images in mobile data capture, Mi-Forms integrates with image technology in two major ways:
- Forms and data within the Mi-Forms system can be output in a number of image types such as a PDF, PNG, JPG, TIFF, GIF, and BMP.
- A data field within a Mi-Forms application can be filled with any of the above data types as well, including as a photo from the camera of the device. That image is then connected to a specific record in the database or ECM/EDM system.
History of Bar Codes, 1998 by Warren Hagey.
“Smart Card Security,” from Military Information Technology, originally published on Oct 13, 2003 in Volume 7 Issue 8 and updated Oct 5, 2005 in the OnLine Edition.