Friday, May 25, 2001
Springfield, MA--Machine operators might one-day control
their tools using a human-machine interface (HMI) embedded into their safety
glasses. But for now, the convergence of wearable PC and wireless communications
technology will drive the future of HMI on the job-shop floor. At least that's
the assertion of Danny Donaldson, president of Newall Electronics Inc. (www.newallusa.com), a digital readout (DRO)
system and linear measurement technology manufacturer.
Newall unveiled its iPRO (Interactive Personal Readout) that
brings together a wearable PC, wireless communications, and DRO at an Eastec
2001 press conference on Tuesday morning. The system combines for the first time
in the metalworking industry a Xybernaut™ MA IV wearable PC with a headset that
includes display, earphones, and microphone. A voice-activated interface allows
handless PC and DRO control, and a wireless processor lets the operator move
freely about the machine.
"In fact, operators can go from machine to machine with one
headset," says Donaldson, "or even monitor machine status from several hundred
meters away." Transmitters on the DRO's linear scale read heads in the machine
feed production data via wireless LAN (local area network) to the belt-mounted
PC, which the operator can view on the head-mounted display.
Running Windows on a Pentium MMX 233-MHz platform, iPRO uses
special optics and a 1.1-inch semi-transparent screen to create a virtual,
full-color, 15-inch image that appears to float directly in front of the
wearer's eyes. "Users can display CAD drawings, check their e-mail, access the
Internet, view mpegs, or make phone calls," explains Donaldson. "It's all about
getting the information to the machinists and operators at the time when they
need it, to help them better perform their jobs with increased efficiency."