“The goal of the machine is to create a setting where the users can get into a state of deep human flourishing—creating work that’s at the absolute extent of their personal abilities”

Davide Dewane

When we talk today about “dedicated devices,” more than likely we may get a few puzzled looks. This is not a term that is frequently used within the industry. Dedicated devices are, in fact also called corporate-owned single-use, or COSU for short.

In today’s digital economy dedicated devices are everywhere. In fact, chances are that you’ve interacted with several already today, whether at your favorite restaurant, grocery store or at the bank. Dedicated devices have become the workhorses of the digital economy.

Let’s talk more about what exactly are dedicated devices – why they’re important and discuss some examples of feature sets and functions that make them unique.

A Brief History, Overview & Definition

Dedicated devices started emerging in the retail sector as early as 1980. Credit card machines launched by VeriFone and Ingenico could be considered as the earliest dedicated devices.

Soon after with the advancement of display and touch technologies, dedicated devices started to emerge in various forms, to the point today that we see them everywhere. Common examples are ATMs, POS terminals, and airport ticket vending machines.

The retail and restaurant sectors offer a wide range of examples and use cases for dedicated devices. Cashierless checkout technologies like “Scan and Go,” inventory scanning, self-ordering kiosks, and POS/mPOS are some of the most common examples of dedicated devices in use today. New industries are coming online as well; hospitality, health care, finance, and education are all adopting dedicated devices at a rapid pace.

Here’s a good overview-

A dedicated device by definition is an enterprise hardware unit built for a single purpose. Enterprise software that runs on these devices is built with a focus on the target hardware configuration, such as display, peripherals, and ports. 

Some Popular Examples

Single Purpose Devices and examples

As indicated already, these devices today come in all kinds of shapes and sizes (or different form factors). Automated cars and commercial drones may also be considered dedicated, to the sole purpose of transporting humans or delivering goods from one destination to another. Dedicated devices are becoming ubiquitous. How many have you seen or used today?

Core Characteristics

Dedicated devices are not like smartphones, which we use for multiple tasks at any given time. Instead, dedicated devices have a very specific set of functions; these are described below:

  • Used for a single use case
  • Runs a restricted number of apps, and in some cases one app in Kiosk mode 
  • The enterprise owns the device
  • Devices are persistent and mission-critical – Always On 

This narrow scope does not limit the power or functionality of dedicated devices; it just means that they do one thing and one thing very well.

Consider the Internet of Things; each of the billion IoT devices in this rapidly expansive ecosystem can be considered a “dedicated device” that connects wirelessly to a network and has the ability to transmit data.

Summarizing all of this, Android provides a very useful definition

Dedicated devices are company-owned devices that fulfill a single use-case, such as digital signage, ticket printing, or inventory management. This allows admins to further lock down the usage of a device to a single app or small set of apps, and prevents users from enabling other apps or performing other actions on the device.

Application Code, the real purpose behind Dedicated Devices

The primary factor underlying all dedicated devices is the code that runs on them. In other words, application software is the focal point of these devices. The unique application use cases are characterized by the hardware, operating system, and cloud platform, but the code is the shell for the hardware functionalities. When considering the nature of a dedicated device, keep in mind this point: 

“The application code running on the device is the primary reason why the devices exist in the first place.”

The importance of application code on a dedicated device also creates an important abstraction layer for managing that code. In order to function properly, every device must have the following components: 

  • Touch or Voice-based Interaction 
  • Application software preloaded and connected to the Enterprise backend
  • Hardware is optimized for the application running on it 
  • Cloud-based device management 

Most dedicated systems have a backend and UX to manage the business use case supported by the application running on the dedicated device. For example, POS systems have a backend that facilitates the management of store-specific activity and transactions occurring through the device. Logistics devices have a backend that manages fleet or warehouse activities.

This setup creates considerable opportunities for turning app and device management into code. With the right device fleet management platform in place, developers can integrate device orchestration into existing application backends and dashboards — when, where, and how they see fit.

What Next?

Dedicated devices are the engine of growth in today’s digital economy. They appear everywhere and come in all sizes and shapes: kiosks, retail checkout, point of sale, and bank ATMs, to name a few. Meanwhile, customers who use these devices on a daily basis expect second-to-none experiences. It is estimated, that over 200 million dedicated devices will be deployed in retail, restaurant and industrial use cases by 2024!

Esper is a dedicated device platform enabling developers and enterprises to build, deploy, and manage dedicated devices. And we’re passionate about changing the way enterprises build and deploy their applications on dedicated devices.

Your target devices could be a restaurant kiosk, a point of sale device, or a logistics device. Whatever may be your endpoint, Esper can help guide and advise your dedicated device strategy with our rich set of APIs, SDKs, and tools.

So, if you’re as fired up as we are about dedicated devices and managing their rich attributes, then you’ve come to the right place. Start today with Esper, because we are turning app and device management to code!

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