By Caron de Fortier, HP Printers & Supplies Division Manager at Drive Control Corporation
Mobility is the future of the workforce, as the proliferation of tablets, notebooks and smartphones allows users to work almost seamlessly from anywhere, anytime. However, one aspect of the business environment often remains tied to traditional wired environments – printing. Printers have typically required to be plugged into at least one computer or server, and even if they are shared on a network, devices like tablets and smartphones are unable to access them because the necessary drivers cannot be installed on these devices. This has limited the usefulness of mobile devices and required users to log into their notebooks or PCs at the office if any documentation needs to be delivered in hard copy format. Wireless printing breaks these boundaries, providing true mobility and enabling documents to be easily printed directly from a range of devices, setting users free from being tied to their desks for any functionality.
Smartphones have become common tools in the business environment and tablet sales are beginning to eclipse sales of traditional notebooks and PCs. This trend towards mobility has changed the way people work, enabling them to open and edit documents on the go, read emails and even conduct entire presentations wirelessly. However, tablets and smartphones lack one component that all PCs and notebooks feature as standard – a USB port. This means that a printer cannot be connected directly to these mobile devices, and most printer drivers are incompatible with the mobile operating systems. Now, thanks to the evolution of wireless printing capabilities, printing directly from a smartphone, a tablet and even selected MP3 players is possible.
Increasingly, printers are being developed with advanced wireless printing capabilities which means that there is no longer any need to wait to print emails, photographs, web content, documents and more. A user walking through an office can quickly and easily select the nearest wireless enabled printer from their mobile device, and collect the printed pages on the go. Wireless printing capabilities also enable users to print to any wireless enabled printer from wherever they are, as long as they have Internet connectivity, in the car, the office, at home, at a customer or even at the mall. All the user needs to do is simply collect the printed pages when they are near the selected printer.
Another aspect of wireless printer technology is direct wireless printing which allows wireless-enabled smartphones and mobile devices to print even without a network. Compatible wireless-enabled mobile devices create a connection with the printer, using similar technology to Bluetooth, enabling documents to be printed quickly and easily. Mobile devices with embedded wireless printing capability are also becoming increasingly common, enabling printing from selected applications without the need to install drivers or download software.
An extension of wireless printing is web-enabled printing, which opens up a whole world of possibilities. Business applications can be accessed directly from the screen of the printer, enabling users to archive and upload scans to the web, print online forms and more, all without using a PC at all. Documents and images can be stored on the web, and applications can be accessed to scan spreadsheets, newspapers, photos to online document storing and sharing tools including Google Docs. These stored files can then be viewed, shared and printed anytime, directly from the printer without the need to log on to a PC. Hard copies can then be printed on the fly from online accounts, perfect for documents such as standard forms, which need to be printed often.
The business world of the future is all about mobility and convenience, and integral to creating true mobility is freedom from wired technology in all areas. Wireless printing and web-enabled printing are the next evolution of the mobile workforce, removing the last ties that users had to their desk. Using wireless printing capabilities, users can now print straight from a variety of mobile devices as well as from a PC or notebook anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. This freedom offers the ultimate in printing convenience.