Opto 22 Develops Tool to Build Mobile Automation, Monitoring & Control Interfaces

Automation and control system provider Opto 22 is readying the release of a new tool that will allow engineers to build and deploy mobile, web-based automation, monitoring, and control interfaces for a variety of device platforms regardless of OS, the company said.

Opto 22 has dubbed Groov, set to be released in April, a "human device interface" (HDI) rather than a human machine interface (HMI) because it "takes the regular HMI in a different direction: toward the tablet, smartphone, and other mobile devices that have become part of our home and professional lives," the company wrote in an email to Design News.

The idea behind the tool is to build mobile interfaces that -- like smartphone interfaces -- are more intuitive to how a person works, thinks, and uses a mobile device. Rather than looking clunky as some industrial machines can, the applications built using Groov are meant to be more contemporary, providing easily accessible system information on nearly any mobile device. The company stressed, however, that it does not intend the tool to replace HMIs but rather augment them on mobile platforms. The tool also is designed to work with Opto 22's SNAP PAC control system.

As described by the company in a whitepaper about Groov provided to Design News, the tool is relatively easy to use. It uses a web browser in which engineers can simply drag and drop a gadget, such as a gauge or button, onto the screen and choose a data tag for information from Opto 22's SNAP PAC control system. The tool is based on open standard interfaces so the interfaces will run on any devices that use a web browser, the company said.

Groov is comprised of a number of components, including Groov Box, an industrially hardened appliance that interfaces with Opto 22 control systems and runs the
Groov web application, storing the data from Groov interfaces. Groov Box uses separate network interfaces for the control system and the computer network.

Other components of the tool include the following: Groov Build, a web application's mode for creating a Groov project (the interface); Groov View, a web application's mode for running a groov project in any modern web browser; and Groov View for iOS, an iPhone and iPad version of the browser mode.

Once Groov is available, the suggested price for the product will be $1995, the company said.

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