The growing adoption of IoT-based technologies in the industrial segment has generated increased demand for remote monitoring solutions, interactive display modules, and more efficient HMI devices. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-contact monitors and touchscreens have started to replace conventional touchscreens in the industrial workplace.
Solutions such as using infrared technology to track finger movements within inches of the screen surface are the dominant solution. The benefits of this HMI technology are obvious: it is very responsive even when the user is wearing work gloves, no contact means zero germs and less cleaning due to grease buildup on surfaces, and less damage to the display surface by enthusiastic interaction.
Although somewhat popular, there are still a few factors that prevent this contactless solution from really gaining traction in the industrial environment, and the main two are directly related to the proximity of the user to the device. One is simple physics, the other is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
Physics and reaction time
One aspect of the laws of inertia is the tendency of objects to continue moving in a straight line at a constant speed when no force is acting on them. An operator in a plant working with an interactive field may have difficulty stopping their gloved finger within an inch of the surface and, more often than not, will touch the screen anyway.
Suboptimal visual working conditions
Excessive glare from a screen or monitor increases the visual demands of the operator and can lead to eyestrain and unnecessarily high mental workload. This condition is especially true in factories and workshops where OSHA workplace and lighting requirements require 750 Lux, unlike offices which have an average of 500 Lux. OSHA attributes eye strain, headaches and fatigue, as well as symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and blurred or disturbed vision in low light, to glare from a digital screen. Studies have also found that visual demands are increased under conditions where contrast glare is present, as well as frequent changes in focus distances and low contrast between background and characters on digital screens. ‘computer. Immediate treatments such as anti-reflective films can effectively reduce screen glare by 55%, but over time the film disintegrates and loses its effectiveness.
An in-flight solution
A viable solution is a non-contact holographic HMI interface in the air. Although this technology also uses IR for the HMI, it is the increased distance from the screen that makes all the difference. Holographic Touch TM technology allows the user to interact from 8 to 12 inches or more from a screen or control panel, eliminating the propensity for workers to pierce the IR illuminated screen and touch the screen surface. Additionally, since the user is interacting with an image in the air and not a screen, there is virtually no glare or reflection. (See Figure 1).
Holographic Touch preserves the benefits of touchless interaction, namely operation with work gloves, germ-free interaction, less cleaning due to grease buildup on surfaces, and less damage to the display surface due to over-enthusiastic interaction, without the negative effects of a touchless screen.
In January 2020 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the United States and the rest of the world – Holo Industries developed a contactless, germ-free way for people to interact with terminals, control panels and other devices. Holographic Touch is a transformative new technology that delivers precise and responsive in-air interaction – without special lights, glasses or headphones. Over the past two years, this technology has transformed human-computer interaction and opened up the world to new and exciting applications in medicine, hospitality, banking and industry.
The good thing
Thousands of hours of design and engineering have produced an interactive holographic product unmatched by any other in-air or “floating image” technology. The holographic plates for our units are supplied by ASKA3D, a Japanese manufacturer and a division of Asukanet. (See figure 2).
Each plate consists of methodically positioned vertical mirrors of only a few hundred microns. (See Figure 3). Two orthogonal specular surfaces reflect light to project images. The first angle of incidence and the second angle of emergence have the same angle of reflection, and the plate acts as a projection surface to display images in the air at a ratio of 1:1. ASKA3D technology collects light emitted by objects in a space and then disperses the collected light from that space. Thus, users can see the image of an object in this space just as they see the light emitted by the real object. Holo Industries is the distributor of ASKA3D plates in the United States and Europe and offers the largest selection of holographic plates for monitors in the industry, from 50 mm (doorbells) to 2000 mm (screens and machine interface screens) .
Holo Industries’ in-air interaction is achieved through an array of Neonode zForce infrared sensors that coat the surface of the holograph. Objects in the sensor’s light path cause intensity shifts in the received light, information which is then used to initiate object tracking. By combining the measured value of several sensors, the position of the touch point is calculated in 50 ms or less.
In addition to the holographic plates and IR sensors, each Holo integrated product contains:
- Patented coatings provide superior imaging.
- The highest NIT value displays, guaranteeing a clear and precise holographic image, even in direct sunlight or artificial light
- Special optics and filters to reduce “ghosting” for a clearer, sharper image.
For germ-free interaction in factories and control rooms, touchless monitors and displays using infrared as an HMI offer a positive alternative to touch screens. When IR is used in conjunction with Holographic Touch, false touch and suboptimal visual working conditions are eliminated, and the operator is free to experience the full benefits of touchless interaction.
About the Author:
Glenn ImObersteg is the CEO and co-founder of Holo Industries LLC. His industry experience includes three decades of delivering ecosystems and partner programs to Intel, Microsoft, Siemens, Infineon, ARM, Motorola, Freescale and other industry leaders in embedded and microcontrollers. As president of Convergence Promotions, he also owned IQ Magazine and ARM Developer’s Conference and founded Embedded Developer and Power Developer, joint ventures of Hearst Corporation and Arrow Electronics.