Hybrid service vans, tablets in the field, mobile apps, GPS tracking … field service may have waited a while to catch up to the 21st century, but it’s on a roll in 2013.  In recent months, new products and prototypes for service techs have emerged — 3D technology, M2M communication, new apps and more. Here are a few new innovations that have caught our eye:

3D Printing Pen

We’ve talked about 3D printing and how it revolutionize field service by allowing techs to produce parts on the spot. Now a more compact 3D pen, called 3Doodler, has been designed. This could be potentially used by techs in many ways, one of which would be drawing models — in 3D of course — to better solve problems. And the beauty of it all? It fits in a pocket. Read more on MIT Technology Review

Wearable Electronics

Not many details have been released, but the United States Postal Service has just announced a new line of clothing meant to be “functional fashion.” The line will integrate technology to create “smart apparel” that presumably makes things a bit easier. What we do know: USPS field workers certainly bear the elements and know the difficulties of today’s field work, so there’s hope this line will be truly functional for techs. Indeed, it’s aptly named “Rain Heat & Snow.” Read more on Fast Company

An App for Home Service Workers

It’s a similar idea to YourMechanic: Customers today want more specialized service, and a freelance network of workers can help meet that. RedBeacon, though, is an app geared towards home services (plumbing, yard work, remodeling, etc.) rather than  auto mechanics. It similarly lets users find workers based on location and rating, and a new update allows home owners to pay contractors directly through the app. Read more on TechCrunch

ABOUT Marisa Wong

Marisa is an online content strategist with a focus on developing and launching digital editorial products. She has a journalism background (Time Inc., WSJ) and have been working in online media since 2007. She is currently managing editor at SlideShare.