Wireless control and mobility in automation

Advances in wireless control and mobility allow human-machine interface (HMI) systems allow devices to load and display relevant data that is based on a user’s location and proximity to networked equipment through multiple interfaces and screens.

By Melissa Topp, Iconics November 9, 2017

There is no doubt automation technology has evolved over the past few decades. Thirty years ago, companies were starting to consider the switch from DOS-based systems to one using a new graphically enhanced product Microsoft Windows 1.0. Wireless and mobile computing was still considered something out of science fiction as far as true utility within industrial applications was concerned. Fast-forward to twenty years ago, and the concept of mobile computing was still gaining traction, but it hadn’t become fully accepted.

Today, the bridge between what was considered sci-fi and realistic to someone 30 years ago is narrowing. Multiple wireless devices are available including a wide array of smartphones, tablets, laptops, hybrid devices, and more. Modern mobile automation solutions now incorporate multiple augmented reality (AR) technologies including quick response (QR) code, Global Positioning System (GPS), near field communication (NFC), optical character recognition (OCR), and barcodes (optical, machine readable representations of data). Mobile human-machine interface (HMI) systems allow devices to load and display relevant data based on a user’s location and proximity to networked equipment. 

Advances in HMI through wearable devices

The evolution of mobile computing in automation continues. There are wireless mobility solutions that combine the use of holographic head-mounted computing devices with cloud-based server connections to perform advanced analytics for energy management or predictive maintenance functions.

Self-contained holographic computer can integrate with software specifically adapted to augmented reality applications. Other hardware developers have entered the holographic wearables arena, which utilize the Android mobile operating system tablet solution for its operations. One, for example, is a 3-D holographic machine interface (HMI), which is designed to provide immersive displays for use with devices that use similar mobile hardware to create an augmented reality (AR) application. 

Cloud connections

At about the same time advances were being made in mobile hardware technology, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) began to emerge. Using cloud servers for the heavy lifting of high-speed data storage and analysis, rather than using on-premises computing equipment, has made an impact on the effectiveness of mobile devices.

Today, users are using combinations of all of these technologies, including mobile holographic computing, state-of-the-art visualization and control software, and cloud-based data services in a wide variety of applications across the world; from remote robotics operations, simulation and training, to multi-site maintenance and more.

Mobile and wireless computing may continue to change shape in the coming years but, based on such recent innovations, the real-world application of its benefits will certainly adapt alongside it.

Melissa Topp, senior director of global marketing, Iconics. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE extra

See related articles below about IIoT and mobility from the November issue of Control Engineering.

For more information, visit www.iconics.com/mobilehmi.