Panasonic’s Toughbook range recently reached celebrated its 20th birthday. The technology giant celebrated this milestone in an unusual way - by sending two Toughpads’s into space to test their durability.
The Toughpad FZ-N1 handheld and Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet - neither modified in any way - were each attached to a helium weather balloon and sent some 34,000 metres into space. As the balloons got higher, the air pressure dropped and the balloons expanded before bursting; a parachute returned their respective payloads to earth.
Check out the video below to find out what happened.
Used by the emergency services and the military, Panasonic Toughpads and Toughbooks are designed to be rugged and shockproof, withstanding water, dust and extreme temperatures. But an impressive two-decade track record didn’t stop Panasonic’s technical experts from worrying whether the devices could survive the challenges of the test.
When the balloon bursts there’s no atmosphere to resist the descent of the payload, which means the Toughbook would be travelling at speeds of 250mph before it hits the ground.
This aside according to Jon Tucker, Product Manager, Panasonic the main worry was temperature: “Batteries don’t like getting cold and we thought minus 60, without the wind-chill falling would possibly be a bit of a stretch too far.”
Dr Chris Rose from Sent Into Space, a British company which specialises in sending objects into space and which calculated the payload, flight path and got permission for the experiment agreed. “Smartphones haven’t even got close to surviving these types of things,” he said.
The Toughpad FZ-N1 (above) handheld went into space first, followed by the Toughpad FZ-G1 (main picture), reaching heights of 34km and 35.5km respectively - more than three times the altitude of a commercial jet.
Each payload included six GoPro cameras to film the flight.
Despite the low temperatures, the devices operated to the top of the flight.
Each journey took around 2.5 hours, during which the Panasonic ground team used GPS data to track the progress and the landing.
When they were recovered after landing, the Toughpad’s still worked.
“We were worried about whether they would succeed an average flight – we didn’t get an average flight, we got a really successful flight, very high and a long duration. They did fantastically for a heavy set-up that’s really impressive,” said Rose.
“They had no problem with the landing, the impact - there’s a scuffle on the corner of the G1. Other than that there are no problems at all.”
Find out more about Panasonic's Toughbook and Toughpad range here.