Digital Control Center: a new user experience

Consumer goods such as smart phones and tablets have transformed expectations for the user experience of handheld electronic devices. In this interview, Milan Kocic, Director of Business Development, explains how Hexagon’s Digital Control Center (dCC) brings this level of usability to CMM interfacing.

1.What is the Digital Control Center (dCC)?

dCC is an evolution of our super successful Next jogbox (NJB) hand controller for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). We took all the best parts of NJB, like the most frequently used functions and sturdy ergonomic user-driven design, and added a touchscreen and wireless capability to improve the interaction between the operator and the CMM.

2. What advantages does dCC offer CMM operators?

The interaction between the operator and the machine often involves frequently switching between the jogbox and the metrology software on the computer. Through our research we found that this is a common pain point for users. Most of these interactions should be more seamless, giving the operator more control. By eliminating the constant switching between computer and jogbox, dCC vastly improves productivity, allowing operators to focus on the task at hand, especially on larger CMMs.

3. What are some of the key features of dCC?

In the world of smart phones and tablets, people expect wireless communication and an interactive user experience as a given. In industrial applications, there have been some challenges to implementing such a solution. With dCC, an operator has full freedom to move around even our biggest CMMs without a drop in communication and with negligible latency, using an interface that allows them to touch, swipe, etc. We have also added intelligent workflows between PC-DMIS and dCC, improving the user’s ability to pick a routine, favourite certain routines, take pictures of the setup and leave messages between shifts that will pop up directly onto dCC. We also made sure that dCC is industry-ready, incorporating the durability and quality standards established with NJB.

4. Can you tell us about the research that went into the development of dCC?

Our product development is inspired by our customers. We are in constant dialogue with manufacturers when designing our products. We go into the field and observe how people actually use their machines to uncover some of the core challenges they’re facing. We also look at how we at Hexagon can provide an overall system experience that exceeds our customers’ expectations. Incorporating customers every step of the way, through ideation, prototyping and test piloting the product, we ensure that the end result will match our customer’s workflow and help them increase efficiency.

5. How did customer feedback influence the R&D process?

We regularly reviewed the design progress with internal and external customers. Initially we built over 50 wooden/Styrofoam prototypes to evaluate the fit in hands of all sizes and the fingers of various lengths. Hand fatigue is a very important part of device design and we had to make sure it was well balanced with workflow expectations. During those reviews we constantly evaluated the input from customers. An early example of design decisions concentrated around whether dCC should have one or two joysticks. Over the last 20 years, Hexagon’s jogbox designs incorporated a single stick; however, research brought to light that most 20-34 year olds prefer a dual joystick configuration due to the familiarity of playing video games. Since this demographic is the future user of our CMMs, we implemented the dual joystick not only as it was preferred by our customers, but it also provided a more ergonomic experience for the user.

6. In what other ways did dCC develop over this process?

Another change was an evolution from six hardware buttons to replication of all NJB hardware buttons. Why? Maintaining design continuity between all hand-held controller devices allows users to move around the machine with familiar buttons meaning uninterrupted operation with the system.

Find out more about how you can enhance CMM operations with the Digital Control Center (dCC).

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