Google Glass makes an appearance on the Beckhoff booth at SPS/IPC/Drives

03 December 2013

Beckhoff used the SPS/IPC/Drives event this year to present a futuristic vision using Google Glass as a new concept for machine operation.

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Beckhoff wanted to show how the glasses, which were originally developed for use in the consumer sector, could also find applications in the industrial environment, for example, as a supplement for operation and observation in production. The company used a demonstration to show how it could enable status or dialogue messages or additional information such as documentation, web pages or videos to be called up.
The service technician, for example, can read the properties, history or current status of the sensor or actuator by reading in a QR code on the motor or limit switch. Explaining the possible uses of Google glasses in production, Andreas Thome, product manager PC Control, said: “Google Glass has the potential to change, or at least to supplement the operating philosophy on the machine. The Google glasses could represent a good example of the fusion of Internet technology and automation technology within the framework of Industry 4.0.”

The technical principle: the glasses feature a projection display on which the images are displayed in the form of slides. With an integrated camera pictures can be taken in the viewing direction and used for image processing. In addition, the contents of the screen and the dialogues can be controlled via a touchpad on the frame of the glasses. A loudspeaker is also integrated for the presentation of sound information or for communication with other users. 

The elements appearing on the screen are called slides, because they can be scrolled from left to right in much the same way as with image viewing software. Additional information on the selected slide can be obtained by touching the touchpad. In this way, for example, machine information, such as the machine status or associated data sheets, can be displayed to the machine operator who is standing directly in front of the machine. If necessary the operator can also contact colleagues for advice or to discuss a situation.

Beckhoff showed how Google Glass can be integrated in the control technology via its TwinCAT automation software. In the technology example on the booth at the show, the glasses were able to communicate with a web server that supplies the status of the TwinCAT-controlled machine. The Google glasses receive and display this machine status in the form of signal values or error messages and refer if necessary to the precise error location. The acknowledgment and resetting of the machine status is also possible directly on the glasses.

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