Category Archives: display

VNC Server for Siemens Simatic HMI Panels

MobileVNC offers a tiny footprint VNC server software solution for the different Siemens Simatic HMI touch panels. No matter if you operate a large fleet of Simatic HMI KTP400 Comfort Touch Panels that run on a ARM CPU processor or a Simatic HMI TP700 on x86 (486) Intel CPU, MobileVNC will offer good native performance. Since its first publication more than 10 years ago the professional MobileVNC VNC server solution offers a simple and cost effective way for remote controlling and maintaining industrial PCs, thin clients or even Windows powered mobile devices.

ARM CPU powered Siemens Simatic HMI KTP400

 Simatic HMI TP700 on x86 CPUs

Simatic HMI TP700 on x86 CPUs

Spotnick – How to Track the Location of Your Friends on Facebook?

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Spotnick – Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Some days ago a friend told me that his team just published a brand new iPhone and Android App called Spotnick that allows mobile Facebook users to immediately locate and track their friends. After connecting to Spotnick by using your Facebook account, you are shown a map on which you can locate your linked Facebook friends. As far as your friends are not updating their location in realtime, Spotnick uses the actual home address, or the last known address your freinds entered within Facebook. The Spotnick app also allows to track and update your own address in realtime, so that you can select people who are allowed to see your realtime location. Spotnick app was published for Android as well as for iPhone.

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends

Spotnick – Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

Spotnick - Locate and Track your Facebook Friends, Image source: Spotnick.at

e-Ink Displays – Underestimated Technology for Rough Industrial and Outdoor Interfaces

e-ink display in rough outdoor usage scenario

e-ink display in rough outdoor usage scenario, image source: http://www.eink.com

Since the first commercial appearance of e-Ink Displays around the year 2008, a large collection of cheap e-book readers, such as the Sony PRS505 or Amazon’s Kindle, were successfully introduced on the consumer market. As the e-Ink technology became mature in this field of application, millions of e-book readers are in active use today and the amount of sold e-books is nearly the same level as of traditional books.

E-Ink technology was first mentioned in 1997 based on research started at the MIT Media Lab. Joseph Jacobson and Barrett Comiskey are listed as inventors on the original patent filed in 1996.
E-Ink displays offer some great advantages over alternative display technology, such as extremely low power usage, incredible high contrast and the ability to preserve the static image for an unlimited amount of time without the use of any energy at all. E-Ink displays on the other hand do not offer much multimedia capabilities as they are mostly operating on grayscale, or very simple single color modes. Also their slow reaction times prevent e-Ink displays to show any videos.

Beside the widespread use of e-Ink displays in e-Ink ebook (or even as prototypical Smartphone display) reading devices, their use within industrial applications and rough production or outdoor scenarios is still underestimated. As e-Ink displays offer perfect contrast and preserve the displayed image over an unlimited amount of time, these displays could be the perfect choice for machine interfaces.
Following examples show the use of e-Ink displays in various interesting applications, such as static information on pillboxes, showing information directly on a mountain bike or even to directly show information on a snowboard.

e-Ink display on a pill box

e-Ink display on a pill box, image source: http://www.eink.com

e-ink display on a snowboard

e-ink display on a snowboard: image source: http://www.eink.com

Watch a short film explaining the basic concepts of e-Ink technology:

Augmented Reality Takes Off with Google Glass

Google’s Project Glass, the implementation of an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD), has gained a lot of publicity over the last months. Recently, Google published some additional promotion videos that should demonstrate the benefit of these head-mounted transparent see through displays. Project Glass introduces the recording of personal activities in first person perspective, comarable with a helmet mounted action cam. Google Glass is also used as an unobstrusive information display, in order to give you additional background information in every situation of your daily life.

Arduino Controlled Magic Chess Board

This Arduino controlled Chess board set tangibly connects two players with each other from anywhere in the world. To combine physical interfaces to intuitively control virtual environments gives users the possibility to control all kinds of digital technology without much background knowledge. The combination of tangible artefacts with digital content is called ‘Tangible User Interfaces’. This amazing chess board game is a perfect example for such a tangible interface approach.

Adorable Lean Product Design: Activity Tracker Misfit Shine

Misfit Shine personal activity tracking device

Misfit Shine personal activity tracking device, image source: www.indiegogo.com/misfitshine

Its no surprise that the adorable lean product design of Misfit’s Shine personal activity tracker catched so much public attention that its Indiegogo pledge for funding reached nearly  $700.000 and exeeded its target value by around 600%! Misfit Shine is designed as a waterprove, durable and very light personal device that you can wear even if you go hiking or swimming. Shine is carved out of solid steel within one piece and wirelessly transmits your activity information onto your iPhone. In order to sync your devices data, just lay your Shine on your iPhone.

Misfit Shine offers a lean interaction design by just showing a circle of tiny leds that indicate your potion of activity for your day. The Misfit Shine personal activity tracking device now also is shipped in sleek matte black, which gives it an additional exclusive touch.

Free Leap Motion Sensors start to Ship for Developers

After the Leap Motion Sensor was first mentioned in summer 2012, Leap Motion announces that the first round of 10000 free motion sensors start to ship to the developers within the next days. The Leap 3D Motion sensor system is capable of tracking ten fingers in realtime. Leap Motion claims that their 3D Motion Sensor is 200 times more accurate than existing technology. The idea for this technology was invented during a Phd work in mathematics from UNC and while studying in fluid mechanics. After four years of research and many iterations of hardware, the Leap was finally finished. The Leap is an optical system that tracks your fingers with infrared LEDs and cameras in a way unlike any other motion control tech.

PopSLATE cover adds additional eInk Display to your iPhone

PopSLITE is a project on Indiegogo.com that collects crowd funds in order to design a second eInk screen cover for your iPhone. According to the fact that eInk displays need much less energy that traditional LCD type screens, this cover is a cool idea for consuming ebooks and reading material. eInk screen also offer perfect contrast in direct sunlight without the glean effect. Since the popSLATE screen is ultra-low-power, it is always on. This opens up a bunch of new application possibilities, such as urgent notifications, sports scores, maps, notes, calendar, talking points—you name it—will now be available at a glance.
I especially love the idea of constantly showing a street map on the back of your phone.

Touchy-Feely Lamp with Arduino Starter Kit Tutorial Video

In his 8th tutorial video, Massiomo Banzi explains how to build a touch sensitive lamp, by using the electronics parts from his Arduino Starter Kit, which is available on RS Components (see my Arduino Starter Kit unboxing article). Banzi also explains how to use libraries within your own Arduino development project, in order to speed up development of Arduino program code. External Arduino libraries are available for many different purposes and since the Arduino community is larger than any other maker and DIY electronics community there are a plenty different libraries available for free.

Remote Controlling embedded Windows CE with RealVNC Android VNC Viewer

Today i purchased the RealVNC VNC Viewer for Android based devices, in order to test the compatibility with my MobileVNC Windows CE based VNC server. RealVNC takes €7.55 for this piece of software, which is quite high compared to the typical prices within the Google Play marketplace. Despite my initial fears, the RealVNC VNC Viewer successfully connected to my Windows CE 4.1 embedded thin client device without any complains and i was able to remote control my embedded device by using the touchscreen of my Samsung Nexus Android smartphone. The movement of the remote mouse pointer is shown by a small pixel on the smartphone, according to the fact that every touch is converted to a relative mouse movement, which works really good. See some screenshot of my experiment with RealVNC Android Viewer App in combination with our MobileVNC server and a HP t5000 Windows CE 4.1 thin client.