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Seeing through the eyes of the mobile worker: New smart glasses Visor-Ex® 01 from ECOM Instruments for hazardous areas

17 November 2021

The Pepperl+Fuchs brand ECOM Instruments is introducing Visor-Ex® 01 smart glasses for industrial use in hazardous areas. The intelligent wearable combines high camera quality and reliable communication features in an ergonomic design for maximum comfort and only 180g weight. Thus, the smart glasses are the optimal solution for all tasks that require hands-free use and continuous communication.

Possible applications include many digital workflows like maintenance procedures under the guidance of a remote support expert, who can give instructions and guidance with precision seeing what is happening through the eyes of the technician. In addition, pick-by-vision is a common scenario especially in logistics. The combination of the intrinsically safe smartphone ECOM Smart-Ex® 02 as a computing unit and a pocket unit with replaceable battery for power supply creates an intelligent ecosystem for a wide range of applications. The distribution of functions across the individual system components helps to minimise the weight of the headset unit – without sacrificing performance, connectivity or battery life. By connecting to the Smart-Ex® 02, users can continue to use their tried-and-tested smartphone for hazardous areas without restriction and benefit from all the advantages and security features and controls of the Android 11 operating system: the simple integration and use of apps via the smart glasses as well as over-the-air updates.

Optimum picture and sound quality and convenient operation in one device

A total of three integrated cameras transform Visor-Ex® 01 into the remote expert’s bionic eye. Two 16-megapixel cameras are centrally positioned to map the wearer's natural field of vision – this way the remote support sees exactly what the mobile worker sees. A secondary camera offers a 6x optical zoom for zooming without loss of quality and scanning of barcodes and QR codes. To clearly mark the filming process, a red LED is installed next to the camera to indicate when the camera is in use. The integrated laser bucket shows the wearer exactly where the camera is pointed at. A built in LED torch ensures optimal visibility even under dark conditions. The stable and at flexible mounting of the OLED display counteracts shaking, while integrated acceleration sensors, a gyroscope and a compass help to additionally stabilise the transmitted image.

An array of four built-in microphones is used for clear communication. Built-in speech recognition and noise suppression ensure uncompromising communication quality even in noisy industrial environments. Sound is output via an integrated loudspeaker; alternatively, an external headset can be connected to the smart glasses via the 3.5 mm jack. The smart glasses can be operated by voice command. For manual operation, there is also a touchpad on the side of the Visor-Ex® 01.

All in all, mobile workers can operate the Visor-Ex® 01 system in three different ways – depending on what makes the most sense and is most convenient in the current application: via the microphone's speech recognition function, via the touchpad on the headset unit or also the familiar user interface a large touch display of the connected Smart-Ex® 02 smartphone. This choice of options ensures flexibility for an optimal user experience.
Flexibility and comfort thanks to lightweight design

Visor-Ex® 01 was designed prioritising health protection and comfort for mobile workers. By outsourcing the components for computing power and energy supply via smartphone and pocket unit on the body, the weight that has to be balanced directly on the head is reduced to a minimum. Visor-Ex® 01 itself weighs just 180 grams – unrivalled in industrial smart glasses. Every gram of weight saved counts, as mobile workers in the field usually have to wear protective helmets, safety glasses and/or headsets in addition to the smart glasses.
Visor-Ex® 01 can be easily attached to a safety helmet with a clip, or the device can be attached directly to the wearer's head with a strap and worn as a head-mounted device. Two joints on the variable extension arm of the OLED display ensure unrestricted vision. The distance to the eye and the field of vision can thus be flexibly adjusted. This also makes it possible to comfortably wear the smart glasses over protective or eye glasses – good news for all spectacle wearers. Depending on the individual’s dominant eye, the OLED display can be aligned either near the right or left eye.
For power and data transmission, the headset unit is connected via coaxial cable to the pocket unit, which is attached to the mobile worker's body. This battery unit contains a replaceable 4400 mAh battery. A USB cable connects the headset unit to the smartphone ECOM Smart-Ex® 02, which in its role as the central computing unit of the system performs the image processing and data transfer functions. The wired connection between the headset unit, the pocket unit and the smartphone guarantees reliable connectivity and thus uninterrupted communication in harsh environmental conditions that could push wireless connections such as Bluetooth to their limits. Smart glasses, battery and smartphone can all be charged via the same charging cable that users already know from other ECOM devices.
Visor-Ex® 01 will be certified according to ATEX/IECEx Zone 1/21 and 2/22 as well as NEC/CEC Division 1 and 2 and will have protection class IP68. It can be used in a temperature range from -20 to +60 °C. The Visor-Ex® 01 will be available from December 2021 as an industrial version and in Q1/2022 in the DZ1 and DZ2 variants. ECOM Instruments developed the smart glasses together with its cooperation partner Iristick.
Simple administration, global service and support

ECOM's Digital Products & Services division enables the staging, management and real-time monitoring of the Visor-Ex® 01 via Smart Ex® 02. It combines automated pre-configuration, which already takes place when the devices are manufactured, with comprehensive mobile device management and device analytics. The software is therefore not only easy to set up and manage, but can also be updated at any time – even over-the-air. An analysis of historical data is possible at any time and makes security-critical processes visible. If desired, the solution can be used as a fully-fledged enterprise mobility management system. This is taking workload of IT departments and increases security during ongoing operations.

Global support through the Pepperl+Fuchs network ensures the necessary operational security and rapid assistance. Local contact persons and application engineers are available quickly and directly to deal with questions, solve problems or carry out repairs as quickly as possible.

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