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Modern User Interface Design For IIoT

Modern User Interface Design For IIoT

Many of today’s popular applications are designed to run natively on the Windows platform. Accessing and controlling external hardware devices with a Windows application is often achieved by using a driver provided by the hardware supplier and activating hardware functions using an SDK.

Traditional Windows Application Design
Traditional Windows Application Design

The Evolution of UI Design

When mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones appeared, developers simply rewrote their Windows applications to compile and run on the new platforms (such as iOS and Android). Any external device support that required Windows was left behind and users were forced to go back to their desktop/laptops in order to access their legacy devices.

Today’s user expectations are much more sophisticated as a result of many new technology developments. Touchscreens changed the relationship between user and application––leveraging gestures instead of mice or trackpads. Cloud storage put data over the Internet for access by any device. The cost of Internet-enabled technology lowered to a point where embedded devices became smart and connected, from wearables and appliances to light bulbs and thermostats. At a consumer level, the latest IoT applications are client/server, accessing WIFI-enabled hardware seamlessly over a web browser. The industrial world, however, hasn’t caught on yet.

The Gap Between Consumer and Industrial Technologies

Looking at today’s machine vision development environments, most of them are running on traditional platforms, with all of the related drawbacks. While consumers are enjoying powerful new technologies, this same tech remains largely unsupported in today’s industrial environments.

Modern UI design is out there, and it’s awesome. It consists of a simple, single-page application running Javascript on a web browser delivering several key benefits that are transforming user experience: (1) client/server operation neatly separating a smart device (controller) from the user interface (view), (2) ubiquitous execution on any web browser regardless of OS, and (3) an Internet aware network of interconnected and cooperating devices.

 

Web Server/Client Application Design
Web Server/Client Application Design

 

As applications become more complicated, the number of behavior-altering states and settings increases. Eventually, this becomes unmanageable unless special care is taken to ensure applications are designed for scale. 

With modern web-based user interface design, application frameworks such as Angular, React, and Vue are rapidly developing to structure single-page applications with complex user components; running on-demand code when page elements are activated or when internal states change. As a result, web applications are now capable of achieving the fluidity and complexity of modern day traditional (desktop) applications, with the benefits of portability and scalability.

Bridging the Gap with 3D Smart Sensors

Gocator was the first truly web-driven smart sensor delivering a full 3D inspection environment; leveraging the advantages of single-page application design. The same web-based framework is used to deliver emulation and acceleration.

The move to smart, embedded devices running web technology is capable of fully realizing the potential of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things)––from setup, visualization, monitoring, upgrading, to peer-to-peer networking.

We have come a long way, and there is still much work to be done!

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