In today's always-on mobile business world, wireless connections are essential to keeping companies running optimally. However, despite the fact that the use of mobile terminals in the office is continually increasing, peripherals such as scanners, multifunctional printers, dongles, and USB hard drives frequently do not have a wireless interface.
Specialist solutions provider Silex has solved this problem. Silex has developed network connectivity solutions for devices without network capability, making "dumb" devices "smart". Providing Wi-Fi connectivity for a wide range of devices, Silex allows them to be flexibly connected in any location.
"The Silex range allows users to share any peripheral device through a wired/wireless network. This means that USB devices can be used in a LAN or W-LAN environment, and LAN devices can also be used in a wireless environment. Silex also allows for interactive audio and video distribution across both types of networks," explains Frikkie Koegelenberg, CEO of PDC, Silex's representative in Africa.
The latest product in the Silex range, the DS-520AN wired/wireless USB Device Server, provides high performance and reliable connections to help turn any network ready device into a wireless device.
Koegelenberg points out that this means the days of cabling challenges are long gone, because devices can be placed where they are needed, not where the cable is.
"Whether you are running an office, airport, warehouse, factory, school, or shop, installing a printer or other peripheral devices has traditionally been a challenge. The LAN cabling has to be in place to connect the device and this often requires additional cabling to be done. As a result, once the location of the installation has been chosen, moving the device is difficult. With the Silex solution, peripherals can be moved as needed, and all mobile devices can be connected on the same network."
In addition, the DS-520AN replaces a USB cable with a radio or LAN connection. This means that the distance of the device from the nearest computer is no longer an issue. It also allows the same device to be used by several people in sequence via the wireless network, allowing for optimal utilisation. Thanks to software which automatically detects all USB devices and USB device servers on the network, any device can be used as if it was locally connected.
With the functionality offered by the DS-520AN, devices that require continuous and almost real-time data transfer, such as industrial USB cameras and audio devices such as loudspeakers, can also be used in a network environment. The DS-520AN also functions as a wireless print server. The RAW and LPR network print protocols are supported, and printers with fitted LAN cards can have an extra WLAN interface added. This allows the printer be used by several people, even from different network segments.
"The most common application of the wireless capabilities Silex offers is for printing. Despite the fact that most of today's business printers are network-capable, there is still an important need for print servers in a number of different areas. Similarly, scanners are relatively expensive devices that are usually only connected to a single PC. In many cases, the PC user actually only uses the scanner for a limited amount of time each day, and connecting the scanner to the network allows for greater efficiency," Koegelenberg says.
He adds that one industry in particular is finding great value in Silex's specialist device network connectivity solutions: healthcare. "A trend toward networking various devices to those in the medical field has been steadily spreading. Medical devices, such as EKG monitors and blood pressure monitors, have had serial interfaces for connection to a computer for a number of years. Now, they can be used when and where they are needed over the network. However, medical device connectivity has many unique requirements beyond what is demanded by the typical wireless installation. Silex makes it easy to implement a Wi-Fi solution that addresses these specific needs."
Regardless of industry, Koegelenberg says that enabling wireless network capability for peripheral devices enhances productivity and saves on costs. "Silex's solutions are simple to install and use – whether you want to use a USB device in a virtual environment or network a scanner. With in-built security, it's a must-have for any environment using a wireless network."