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) -- When a doctor's ultrasound device bears a striking resemblance to a music player, it's obvious that the worlds of consumer and business technology are rapidly bleeding into each other


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Vscan Ultrasound, though, is just the tip of the iceberg -- companies like


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Research In Motion


all are tapping into this trend with new smartphone and tablet technology.

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With consumers increasingly reliant on all-singing, all-dancing mobile devices, it was inevitable that these technologies would make their presence felt in other arenas, such as offices and even hospitals.

"For clinical people such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists, if they are familiar with a certain style of consumer device at home, such as a tablet, it's a very natural transition to using the same device in a clinical setting," said Arvind Subramanian, CEO of

Wolters Kluwer Health Clinical Solutions


Elsewhere, features such as video chat are starting to appear on business gadgets, just one of a slew of applications more traditionally associated with the consumer market.

Read on for more details on the hot tech toys targeting corporate America.

GE Vscan Ultrasound

GE's Healthcare division drew on a very familiar design aesthetic when it launched its

Vscan portable ultrasound device

last year. Looking like a cross between a smartphone and an


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iPod, the Vscan uses a "wheel" interface similar to that found on the popular music player.

Another similarity -- the Vscan can be hooked up to a PC for fast export of data, and GE boldly predicts that the device could become as ubiquitous as the stethoscope. Last year, the company also donated 10 of the ultrasounds to a Vatican foundation for use in Africa, which led to the

mother of all photo opportunities

when Pope Benedict XVI checked out the diminutive gadget.

It's not just the Vscan, though, which proves that consumer-style gear is making its way into hospitals. GE Healthcare, for example, also sells its Venue 40, a tablet-sized, color, ultrasound machine and



unveiled its ToughBook C1 last year, a rugged, convertible notebook and tablet

specially designed

for environments such as healthcare.

Dell Venue Pro



its Venue Pro phone last year, offering a mix of both business and consumer features. With a full QWERTY keyboard for business typing, the Venue Pro also comes with a large 4.1-inch touchscreen, a size more typically associated with

consumer phones

such as


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Droid X,


Evo 4G and 3D and





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Windows Phone 7, the Venue Pro integrates with the software maker's Exchange and SharePoint products. In a nod to the consumer market, though, the phone also comes with a free three-month Xbox LIVE gold pass. Available on both


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networks, AT&T customers are also currently eligible for a free three-month pass to Microsoft's Zune music player. The T-Mobile version of the phone comes with a three-month


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gift pass.

In an era of increasingly embarrassing data breaches such as the one that recently




PLayStation network, Dell is also at pains to point out the Venue Pro's "business-level" security.

Cisco Cius

Cisco's forthcoming Cius device represents the

troubled networker's

first foray into the booming tablet market. The networking giant first announced the Cius

last year

, clearly hoping to catch some of the Apple

iPad magic


While the tablet revolution, led by the iPad, was initially aimed at consumers, Cisco is targeting the Cius squarely at business users. Running


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Android operating system, the 7-inch screen device has been touted by Cisco CEO John Chambers as "a collaboration platform of the future."

Video has become a Cisco


in recent years, and the company clearly sees an opportunity to take video-conferencing direct to users' desks.

Like Apple's iPad 2, the Cius comes with both front-facing and rear-facing cameras. The device also offers users the ability to produce, edit and share cloud-based content and supports Cisco's various communications products such as WebEx and Quad, a form of business collaboration technology. Security is provided by Cisco's AnyConnect Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Tech Data

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will start offering the Cius to Cisco's Advanced Unified Communications customers on May 31, and


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will sell the tablet to its business customers, starting in the fall.

A Cisco spokeswoman told


that the Cius will be generally available during the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which runs until the end of July. The device, however, became commercially available on March 31, she explained, when Cisco began accepting customer orders and shipping tablets to customers with "unique use cases for production deployments."

RIM Playbook

RIM's tablet offering, the PlayBook, was

formally launched

last month, as the Canadian gadget maker attempts to claw share from Apple's popular iPad. While critics have panned the device's lack of apps and the need for a BlackBerry bridge to access users' email, the PlayBook has also been


as an ideal

enterprise tablet

for existing BlackBerry users.

Clearly aware of the fact that business users are looking for consumer-style whistles and bells on their tablets, RIM recently unveiled a number of

new PlayBook features

, which include a video chat application and a



RIM also expects to offer Google Android apps on its 7-inch touchscreen tablet sometime during the summer, although it will take a herculean effort to close the gap on Apple's App Store.

Heralded by RIM as "the world's first professional-grade tablet," the PlayBook marks the debut of the company's new QNX software. RIM, however, suffered a


this month when it was forced to recall about 1,000 PlayBooks due to problems with the operating system when starting up some of the devices.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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