Display computer, controller, communication devices

 

Easy integration of smart devices in vehicle control systems

By integrating a Smart device – a Smartphone or a Tablet – with the vehicle control system, OEMs can offer end user a range of value-adding functions. This articles explores some of the opportunities with Smart device integration and presents the maximatecc solution for making it easy for OEMs to realize such functionality.

One example of Smart device integration is a Remote display app that presents vehicle information to e.g. the work site manager or the operator when he is not in the vehicle cab. It could be information like operational status, fuel level, location, remaining “capacity” or “load”, alarms etc. On a construction site, it means that all stakeholders can have access to the machine status, virtually at their fingertips, increasing efficiency by reducing time waste. For an agricultural machine, a Remote display can be very useful in machine combinations, like a harvester and tractor/trailer combination, serving up information from the harvester to the tractor driver, like a simple but powerful M2M system.

Display computer CCpilot XM and smart device for vehicle control

Another example is to use the Smart device as service tool for Service technicians. Operational log files and alarm lists can be accessed in a Service tool app, not having to use dedicated service tool hardware, which require software upgrades to ensure it can communicate with the machine.

The maximatecc solution for Smart device integration is easy both to realize and to use. Let’s start by looking at the wireless connectivity between vehicle and Smart device.

CrossLink AI is a robust and compact global wireless access module that is added to a system with a USB connection, like a generic USB device, either to a display or controller in the system. CrossLink AI features GNSS with concurrent GPS/GLONASS, GSM/GPRS with 3G, Dual band Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth Class 1. With radio certification for all major markets, CrossLink AI is a lean and robust solution for getting a machine connected anywhere in the world. Besides the obvious use areas like Fleet Management and Cloud services, the device is also the means for connecting a Smart device to the machine; the Wi-Fi access point functionality in CrossLink AI enables Smart devices in the vicinity to connect to the machine as easily as you get onto a Wi-Fi hotspot in your favorite café or in the hotel room.

But arguably, wireless access is not new, and a wireless link without function does not add value. This is where the big benefit with the maximatecc solution comes into play.

LinX Software Suite is the open software application platform that comes with maximatecc’s Linux and Windows-based displays. It contains a set of application modules, eg. UX Designer for GUI application development, Embedded Control for control logics with the option of using CoDeSys as an integral part of the platform. The foundation of the platform is the LinX Core – a real-time communication platform that makes available all signals and data of a system to the individual application modules. It is via LinX Core that a connected Smart device can access any information readily available in the system. In reality, the app will only be allowed to access certain information. This is managed easily in a dedicated application module, Smart connect, where you define what data to make available for connected devices.

With connectivity and access to data in place we now need an app that can present the data. This is how it is done;
The module in LinX for developing GUIs – UX Designer – is based on Qt, a state-of-the-art, operating system independent framework for developing graphical user interface applications. This means that the user interface developed for the on-board display and the app’s for Smart devices can be developed in the same tool. You can actually re-use the application developed for the on-board display, re-configure it to include the information you want in the Smart device app and simply build it for Android, Win or iOS. This is a tremendous saving compared to running a separate app development project.

In conclusion, the maximatecc solution to easy Smart device integration, is to use the same software platform for both the GUI application that runs in the onboard display computer, and the app running in the Smart device. The simplicity in developing the app makes it easy to offer end users a modern way of interacting with the machine. In addition to the operational benefits the user will experience with the app, there is branding value that should not be neglected – just look at the effect of apps like My BMW and My Volvo.

In the greater scheme of things, easy integration of Smart devices is only one of the opportunities that materialize when you adapt a powerful and open software platform like LinX Software Suite. Cloud services was mentioned briefly earlier and this is a field that is projected to revolutionize the industrial vehicle industry in the coming 10 years. With a powerful software platform on-board your vehicle, these services can easily be made available as integrated parts of your vehicle system, be it weather information, traffic situation or the price of corn.

It is true that such functionality is already available in systems provided by especially large equipment suppliers. But by leveraging the fast emerging Cloud services, similar functionality can be adopted with limited effort also in equipment provided by medium-sized and smaller OEMs. For this group of companies, not having the engineering and financial resources of larger corporations, the integration of Cloud services must be easy to engineer. The solution to that is the use of a powerful and open software platform in the vehicle control system, like the LinX Software Suite from maximatecc.

At Agritechnica 2015 maximatecc will showcase the concept of Smart device integration as well as new additions to the company’s range of display, instrumentation and controller products.

Meet us in hall 15, stand J04!

Smart devices in vehicle control systems