Toughbook from Panasonic goes to Borneo

An expedition team searching for new species in the remote tropical rainforests of Borneo has used Panasonic’s most rugged Toughbook CF-30 laptops to speed its research and stay in touch with the outside world.

The Toughbooks, loaned to the Heart of Borneo charity’s first expedition team, are essential to the scientists as they use them in one of the most extreme environments in the world to record results from video trap cameras looking to spot rare and new species, such as the native Sun Bear. Since 2007, 123 new species have been discovered in the Heart of Borneo Rainforest.

The team also use the Toughbooks during their expedition to communicate via satellite with museums, schools and the media to share their findings with scientists and students at home. The Toughbooks have already been used for live video satellite link-ups with the Natural History Museum and the Guardian newspaper website.

“The Toughbooks have been invaluable in the rainforest,” said Martin Holland, Founder and Executive Director of the Heart of Borneo Charity.
“Being able to use them on location whatever the weather, out on boats or 5km into the rainforest from our camp has been incredibly helpful.”

The two-week journey by boat and trek into the remote rainforest, as well as the 100% humidity, had had its effect on the expedition’s technology.
The team’s regular laptop failed after just 48 hours in base camp and the team have also had camera lens and generator troubles.

“With 100% humidity, daily downpours of torrential rain and battling against river crossings, swamps, mud pits and our many falls when working out in the field make it a pretty challenging life for the technology on our expedition,” said Martin. “The Toughbooks have been solid and dependable. Not even a hiccup. Knowing we can rely on them to work has helped us sleep much better at night.”

Ultra-tough, speedy and effective, the Toughbook CF-30 has been designed to military specifications to endure the harshest of conditions. For the expedition team, Martin explained that the Toughbooks had even allowed them to speed up their research.

“The water resistance and all round toughness and resilience against knocks and bumps have given us the confidence to speed up our research by taking them into the field,” said Martin. “The touchscreens make them very practical in the field and the antiglare screen makes working even in the direct sunlight of the tropics a breeze – something that amazes me every time. The battery life has also been tremendous and has meant that we have been able to conserve generator energy for longer periods and travel with the Toughbooks far from the camp.”

The team’s inaugural expedition into the unexplored area of the Heart of Borneo Rainforest began in November 2010, lasting for 3 months. A team of European and Indonesian explorers, scientists and filmmakers spent 2 weeks getting to one of the most remote areas of rainforest in the world, and for the next 9 weeks are researching and documenting the species they find there.

The expedition aims to help conserve one of the most biodiverse and threatened areas of rainforest left by bringing together research and the media, empowering local people, and creating an educational resource for teachers across the world.

This expedition has won numerous awards, and has been sponsored by some of the biggest names in exploration and conservation, including the Royal Geographical Society, WWF, Zoological Society of London, the Explorers Club, and the Natural History Museum in London.

Borneo in SE Asia is the third largest island in the world, and is split between Indonesia in the south, and Malaysia and Brunei in the North. The whole region is now known as the Heart of Borneo, after an historic trans-boundary agreement to ‘sustainably manage’ the forest, negotiated by the WWF between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Heart of Borneo region consists of 220,000km² of rainforest – almost 1/3 of the entire island and roughly the size of the United Kingdom.