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Mobile Devices Can Do Wonders for the Modern Signshop

Here’s how you can use your phone or tablet to improve operations.

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MOBILE DEVICES ARE either one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century or the bane to our existence. No matter what, smartphones and tablets can be highly productive tools with the right apps. Some of their uses are pretty obvious. You no longer need to take a digital camera into the field to document an installation or existing sign due for replacement. You can also easily email the photos to your clients with just a couple of taps. So are these things any good for anything else? Of course they are.

Some of the higher-end phones and tablets include LiDAR scanners. LiDAR is used to create depth maps and is used by many phones to help with low-light photography. As a side benefit, it can be used to determine very accurate measurements in real time without the need to go back to the truck and get the tape measure you forgot. The gyroscope function in your phone can also be used to measure angles. Just use the long end of the phone and place it on the surface to be measured.

Advances in mobile technology for sign design, manufacturing and other purposes  have freed sign pros from being tied to the office entering data or viewing reports.

Advances in mobile technology for sign design, manufacturing and other purposes have freed sign pros from being tied to the office entering data or viewing reports.

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OK, we know those are fairly obvious and many of you already knew these functions existed. How about something new? Many printer and RIP software manufacturers include apps that can check the status of virtually every setting on your printers, as well as the print-queue order, and in many cases, the ink levels. So imagine sitting at your desk and having a salesperson come in and say that an important client needs their work now. You do not have to pick up the phone and call the floor to have that job bumped up. You can do it right from your phone or tablet, even if you are off-site.

Last month we covered shop management software and this is another area where mobile devices can be a lifesaver. Imagine getting caught in the parking lot by the boss and she wants to know which orders have closed this week. No longer do you have to say, “I need to get to my desk to get you the numbers.” You can just log into the management system and immediately look up the info. Mobile apps may not be available for all shop management packages but a number offer them.

All of that is great, but what about design work? While full-blown sign packages are not readily available for mobile phones and tablets, many design and editing packages are. If you are working with photography and/or paint images, a number of well known manufacturers offer lite versions of their desktop software and some manufacturers produce full-featured paint packages. If you get inspired at home or on the road, you can continue to design and copy the work to your office cloud or local system for the final edits.

So, we have touched on just some of the things your mobile devices are capable of doing now. In the future, who knows? A good bet is more shops will adopt AR (augmented reality) allowing virtual objects to be placed into a real-life scene. Pokémon Go is an excellent example of how AR can be used for entertainment. Stay tuned, more to come.

PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)

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