Based on knowledge from our previous projects in industrial settings, as well as on the experience of our studio partner ABB and their customers, we know that there is a need to further develop the software systems that are used in industry settings.
These systems are old, legacy systems which typically have been designed with neither users nor a notion of usability in mind. This has resulted in systems that are difficult to learn, especially for novel users. Often, there are many ways of achieving the same result, but users tend to get stuck in one way of using the system, even though there might be better, more efficient ways of doing what they do. It is also not uncommon that users in industrial environments might be afraid or feel ill-at-ease with exploring and testing new functionality, as even small mistakes may have huge effects on the factory. Users also experience automation and control systems as difficult to navigate in, to know where they are in the system, and to zoom in and out and return to a previous position.
To deal with some of these problems, we are collaborating with ABB Corporate Research in this project to bring forth new concepts and tools to appear in future versions of 800xA, ABB's system for process and automation overview and control. Here is one approach to using stop motion techniques to quickly visualize ideas.
We are researching, prototyping, and testing new concepts for assisting users and help users learn the system and develop and improve as users that go beyond the idea of a printed manual. Many of the concepts we are developing originate in the wold of computer gaming. Many of today's complex games are shipped without written manuals. How is that possible? What tools and techniques do game creators apply to allow users to learn the game as they play? How can these be adapted and adopted to industrial systems?
We are ideating, prototyping, and testing new visions and future directions for interacting with and navigating the information and data presented by these systems. Traditionally, this is done through one or two screens, a keyboard, and a mouse. With recent advances in wall-sized displays, multi touch surfaces, and mobile computing, interaction with industrial automation and control systems is no longer tied by necessity to control rooms and office-like environments. But if such systems are made available to users on wall-sized multi touch display, what should they look like and work and how should users interact with them, i.e. set values, start and stop machines, and make other adjustments?
A global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact.
ABB has in recent years shifted from large-scale solutions to alternative energy and the advanced products in power and automation technologies. ABB's entire global organization is built around our main customer groups in order to serve individual customers more efficiently and create more value for them. ABB operates in more than 120 countries and has offices in 87 of those countries to give its global and local customers the support they need to develop and conduct their business successfully.
While often thought of primarily as a hardware company, a very important range of products for ABB are their software systems. ABB are dedicated to increase these systems' usability and user acceptance and the collaboration with Interactive Institute Umeå is an important step in this direction.