Integrating Smart devices in vehicle controls
Article written by Bo Svensson for Diesel Progress
A solution enabling equipment OEMs to easily create Smart device apps that allow different stake holders to interact with the equipment. All signals and data available over the equipment fieldbus system are made available for usage in both the on-board display and in Smart device apps. Software re-use is made possible by developing on-board user interface and apps for Android, Win or iOS in the same tool.
“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,” said Mats Kjellberg, Head of Marketing at maximatecc. “One example of Smart device integration is a remote display app, which presents vehicle information to for example the work site manager, or the operator when he is not in the vehicle cab.”
The information transmitted could be operational status like fuel level, location, remaining “capacity” or “load” and alarms. 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 machine to machine (M2M) system.
Another example is to use the Smart device as a 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 wireless connection between a Smart device and the vehicle system is achieved with CrossLink AI, a robust and compact global wireless access module. CrossLink AI is connected via USB, like a generic USB device, to either an on-board display or controller. CrossLink AI features GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System receivers) 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,” said Ken Lindfors, product manager, Software Platforms at maximatecc. “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.”
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 data to be made available for connected devices is defined.
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 apps for Smart devices can be developed in the same tool. The application developed for the on-board display can actually be re-configured to include the information you want in the Smart device app and simply build it for Android, Win or iOS.
This is clearly a 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,” said Kjellberg. “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 is a field, which 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, said Lindfors. “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 companies, not having the engineering and financial resources of larger corporations, the integration of Cloud services must be easy to engineer, Kjellberg said. “The solution is the use of a powerful and open software platform in the vehicle control system, like our LinX Software Suite.”