The Point!  
Screenshot  (actual size: 240x320) of the most compact Point!Form System, loaded on a Casio E105.
Introducing The Point!

Have you got the Point? 
The Point! Form represents the core of The Point! proposition. The Point! Form is an intelligent software package developed by Ixiom Software Solutions in partnership with The Edge Strategeze (The Edge). The Point! Form is the genesis behind The Point!, the brand name under which the new mobile automated data collection tool is marketed. The Point! was developed initially as a tool for marketing research, and we tend to speak in those terms. Fortunately, there are many data management criteria inherent in the research process that set high demands for software functionality. 
It is extremely obvious that The Point! is just as valuable as a tool for creating user friendly inventory management systems, field checks for aircraft, lead capture at special events, and even digital shopping lists for the average consumer to name but a few viable applications.




The Technology  
Point!Form for HPC 
The Clio from Mainstreet Networks, shown above is one of the available form factors for the Point System.
The Clio provides 640 x 480 x 64k color screen and last up to 10 hours on a single battery.

To the end-user The Point! appears as a small notebook or a normal Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) depending on the selected form factor. The device can present full color graphical images and large legible text, not unlike a standard, high quality web page. 
Each screen within the form that is displayed to the user is interactive and uses the inherent touch screen abilities of the devices to receive input. Forms designed with large buttons and a good use of color allow for a comfortable user experience, rarely experienced on such small devices. The combined effect is a visually stimulating user-friendly experience that draws attention and promotes participation. To those in need of information, that translates into extraordinarily efficient collection of far more data than conventional collection methods can achieve. The Point! has achieved unheard of response levels in astonishingly short timeframes. 

Each machine supports multiple surveys, and is limited only by the amount of memory on the specific device. Groups of surveys are loaded on to the device via a link with a standard PC either by serial cable or by IR port. Potential wireless technologies, capable of enhancing user experience and increasing available bandwidth, are under exploration. Surveys or forms range in detail from extremely simple to highly complex. 
Simple surveys include a set of form screens with large buttons that users touch to record discrete information. As well, free-form text and numeric entry is made possible by an onscreen keyboard in QWERTY, alpha ordered or numeric format. On PPC devices, only numeric keyboards are provided due to screen size. 

More complex surveys can contain multiple languages (generally starting with a “Select your language” form) as well as supporting 2 styles of branching, or form skipping information.

Branching is determined as an assigned object attribute, or via a brand-sequencing wizard within The Point! Maker. Simple branching means that respondents are guided through different screens based upon different responses. Complex branching takes into account all touches since beginning the user session, and scans touches from any number of form screens to determine the next screen to produce. This provides much more than a simple decision tree, and can lead to greater understanding of user information. The ability to manage a highly sophisticated survey design is a significant step forward in automated data collection. The compact size of The Point!, and anticipated 10 to 12 hour battery power enable mobile data collection where previously none was possible.
Technically, the software operates on any Windows CE device and offers broad support on the 2 main CE platforms – the Hand Held PC (HPC - i.e. the MainStreet Networks Clio which is the standard unit we use most often) and the Pocket PC (PPC – i.e. the Cassieopia E100/E105 or Compaq Aero). For HPC devices standard support is provided at resolutions of 640 x 480 and 640 x 240. For PPC devices, a screen resolution of 240 x 320 have become the predominant standard. Each screen touch is recorded in a highly compact CE database and contains information regarding the time of the touch allowing for greater statistical analysis. This platform flexibility and full Windows compatibility brings automated data collection to clients in a form that connects seamlessly to their own operating environment.

Point!Form for HPC 
The Casio E100, shown above is another of the available form factors for the Point System.
The Casio E100 provides 240 x 320 x 64k color screen and fits in the palm of your hand!


The Point! in Action  
Point!Form for HPC 


The History  
The Edge Strategeze Inc. has a well-established history in the development of kiosking technology. With our base business centered in marketing research, we have long held the ambition to optimize our methods of data collection. From our inception, our fundamental data collection methods have been scanning and faxing of forms that incorporate intelligent mark-sense, bar-code, and printed character recognition. For this reason, The Edge’s first effort in kiosking (which we called A.R.K.@the_edge for Automated Response Kiosk) integrated Teleform’s form scanning software with a touchscreen and camera. It would be fair to describe the A.R.K. as “very cool”, but big, awkward and unreliable - and a bit ahead of its time. From there we turned to an electronic clipboard technique using the CrossPad and forms that as they were filled out on paper recorded an “electronic ink” version in the background. When the integration of the electronic data with our forms software failed to reach fruition we pretty much resigned ourselves to reliance on pencil and paper.

Finally however, we reached The Point! Our creative process was stimulated by seeing a hard-coded form operating in a standard PDA. At this juncture, we realized that if a software packaged were developed within the Window CE environment to create touchscreen activated questionnaires, complete automation of data gathering and portability would be our reward.

Hence The Point! System: a higher point than we had anticipated.

Because The Point! System was developed initially for Windows CE, it is inherently capable of running on any and all Windows platforms — from the smallest and most portable PDA to the largest permanent kiosk display. Each day we continue to be intrigued by its potential. It may be hard to imagine data collection that is completely portable, wirelessly connected to the Internet, interfaced with scanners, printers, cameras, and voice recording — yet cost effective and easy to use, but we hope that you are starting to get The Point!

ARK @ The Edge
An initial prototype from the Edge's initial efforts at providing a better manner to collect data;  ARK@THE_EDGE.