Custom-made apps could take mobile device usage in industrial automation to a new level

What lies ahead in mobile device enhancement for industry - part three in the 'adapting mobile devices to industrial applications' series

The continuous progress in mobile technologies related to user experience and interaction techniques raises the need to allow existing human-machine interfaces (HMIs) to evolve so that personnel can use these techniques when interacting with ABB products. Future HMIs should utilize the best parts of these new inventions (including depth-sensing, gestures, voice control and new display technologies) and enable users to interact with systems more efficiently, and safely.

ABB research shows that with custom-made apps for well understood scenarios and use cases, mobile device usage in industrial automation can be taken to a completely new level. New developments such as augmented reality, pico projectors and sensors for detecting the environment can make mobile devices even more powerful in several ways. Augmented reality shows a live view of the reality through, for example, a camera view of a mobile device. The view is then augmented by computer-generated content (eg, graphics). Augmented reality could benefit, for example, maintenance engineers to show more equipment-related information. For instance, the system could visualize important information related to a device (eg, the water level in a tank).

Pico projectors are small, handheld projectors that can project full-size images onto any surface. When these are attached to mobile devices (some mobile devices already include one, for example, Samsung Beam), any surface can be used as a display. Then, a maintenance engineer could use his pico projector to project, for example, instructions related to maintenance work directly on top of the device that needs repair.

Mobile devices already include sensors such as a gyroscope and accelerometer to detect the orientation of the device. In the future, mobile devices will probably include more sensors such as infrared cameras or smell detectors to record data about the environment. This information could be used to check if there are abnormal gases in the air or if some equipment has overheated. The gyro and accelerometer could be used to detect where the maintenance engineer is pointing, and identify the device in question to give him more information related to the device.

ABB continues to look toward the future, to analyze the impact of emerging technologies, and explore efficient utilization and the reasonable combination of existing and emerging technologies related to mobile device enhancement.

Related articles:

Adapting mobile devices to industrial applications – part one

Assessing user needs for mobile app development in industrial environments – part two


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About the author

Andreas Moglestue

I'm Chief Editor of the ABB Review magazine.
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