Going to Extremes

At Panasonic, we regularly push the limits to better understand how to get the most out of our Toughbook mobile computers. By going to extremes, we create products our customers can rely on, even in the most demanding conditions.

Often, our customers are in these harsh conditions so they can push the limits in the name of science or personal goals.

As an example, we recently receive a note from Luke Johnson, a member of a research expedition conducted by The North Face and The Mayo Clinic, to study elite athletes in extreme environments – on Mt. Aconcagua in South America.

Luke’s note, which details how his expedition tested the durability and reliability of a couple Toughbook 30s, can be found below. We’d like to thank him for sharing his experience with us. We’d also like to thank his team for putting their trust in the Toughbook brand. We are happy (but not at all surprised) our devices didn’t let them down.

Dear Toughbook,

I was recently on a research expedition with The North Face and The Mayo Clinic on Mount Aconcagua (6,962 m 22,841 ft): the highest mountain in the America’s. In an effort to more fully understand the limits of human adaptation, we developed a unique program to test and evaluate individuals who regularly demonstrate elite level performance in adverse environmental conditions.  The program aims to use this knowledge to expand the limits of human performance in adverse conditions, to test new technologies that remotely monitor human physiology, and to develop educational materials that disseminate the results of this research. The information gathered from this testing and analysis will provide new knowledge about the limits of human performance and aid the development of new technologies that will allow physiologic monitoring in a non-clinical setting. Since many human diseases force clinical patients to their physiological limits, knowledge gained from athletes pushing the boundaries of human performance in extreme environments promises to advance the care of patients, especially those with cardiac and/or pulmonary disease.

In order to properly monitor individuals in the field and collect data in these adverse environmental conditions, we needed a computer that would survive the expedition and withstand the unpredictable variables of the Mountain. We decided to go with two fully-rugged Toughbook 30’s. The Toughbooks were used the entire expedition, from Mendoza (2,428 ft), Confluencia (10,498 ft), Plaza de Mulas 13,779 ft), Plaza Don Fernando (15,748 ft), to Plaza Don Benegas (17,700 ft). The Toughbooks withstood temperatures down to -20 C, winds up to 40 mph, and various extreme snow/ice conditions. It was strapped to the backs of mules; as they rode through streams, rain and snow storms, and was thrown in multiple packs on the go, during many rugged trips up the mountain. The Toughbooks survived through it all, and fulfilled a critical role in completing the task we set out for.


Luke Johnson

Research technologies (Extreme Human Physiology)
Project: Mayo Extreme Human Physiology Program Speed Ascent Physiology in Elite Athletes-Aconcagua
Athletes: Diane Van Deren and Willie Benegas
Collaborators: The North Face/Mayo Clinic/ National Geographic Society
Dates: January 22-February 9, 2010

Related Links:
Mayo Clinic expedition blog
North Face expedition blog
New York Times article about the expedition