Next Generation Operator Interface

Next Generation Operator Interface

“Siri, what’s the weather in Bangor?”

“Alexa, buy some toilet paper.”

“Zelda, check the status of the control loop at P28.”

Operator interface is many years removed from its last significant upgrade. Yes, the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium (led by Honeywell) and Human-Centered Design used by Emerson Process Management and the work of the Center for Operator Performance have all worked on developing more readable and intuitive screens.

But, there is something more revolutionary on the horizon.

A big chunk of time last week on the Gillmor Gang, a technology-oriented video conversation, discussed conversational interfaces. Apple’s Siri has become quite popular. Amazon Echo (Alexa) has gained a large following.

Voice activation for operator interface

Many challenges lie ahead for conversation (or voice) interfaces. Obviously many smart people are working on the technology. This may be a great place for the next industrial automation startup. This or bots. But let’s just concentrate on voice right now.

Especially look at how the technologies of various devices are coming together.

I use the Apple ecosystem, but you could do this in Android.

Right now my MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone are all interconnected. I shoot a photo on my iPhone and it appears in my Photos app on the other two. If I had an Apple Watch, then I could communicate through my iPhone verbally. It’s all intriguing.

I can hear all the objections, right now. OK, Luddites <grin>, I remember a customer in the early 90s who told me there would never be a wire (other than I/O) connected to a PLC in his plant. So much for predictions. We’re all wired, now.

What have you heard or seen? How close are we? I’ve done a little angel investing, but I don’t have enough money to fund this. But for a great idea…who knows?

Hey Google, take a video.

Notifications Important New Internet Tech

Notifications Important New Internet Tech

I only visit Websites when I am doing research. I never browse Websites searching for new information. Most information flows to me through a carefully curated RSS feed into Feedly. Otherwise, notifications key me into new information that may be important guiding me to a Website for a deeper dive.

Steve Gillmor (The Gillmor Gang) has been a notifications advocate (after his brash “Microsoft is dead” and “RSS is dead” mantras got old). Early on he berated Twitter for dropping tracking and then for its inability to provide  a strategy for sorting through the firehose of tweets to cull out only what’s important.

Last month, he and John Borthwick of Betaworks teamed for a Notifications Summit last month. Videos of the presentations can be found at TechCrunch or on iTunes (searching for Gillmor Gang), or here at Betaworks.

Take a dive into these technologies especially if you are a software developer. The information also educates users into what is possible and into perhaps new ways of finding the important signal amongst all the noise.

Borthwick’s introduction can be found on Medium. (Note: I’m also beginning to post on Medium. Seems to be an interesting new media idea.)

Borthwick wrote, “A few months ago Steve Gillmor and I discussed bringing together key people we knew who were building, designing and innovating around mobile notifications for a half day meeting. The meeting or summit — as we ended up calling it — took place on October 1st. We had about 50 people in attendance here at betaworks, it ran half the day. ”

Conference organizers take note. A very important and substantive gathering was held in a half-day. Note the quick-paced panels that were at once informal and punctual.

Anyway, back to Borthwick, the conference led with an important observation, “Right now we are witnessing another round of unbundling as the notification screen becomes the primary interface for mobile computing.”

Then he added, “Adam Bosworth kicked off the day with a discussion of how the notification stream represents complete re-construction of internet and HTTP from pull to push. This shift was predicted for a while but now it’s driving our primary mobile compute experience.”

There is a sense we can say that we’ve had notifications for years in automation and control. They are called “alarms.” Let us begin to think more creatively about the value of notifications in our work. It’s the future–and it’s here.

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