Lufft XA1000: The smartphone of measurement technology
As the project of the handheld device XA1000 started in July 2011, Lufft’s development team had one idea in mind: The successor to the C-Series was going to be the pioneer of a new and decisive generation of handhelds. The new series, aptly code-named X (for eXpert), should no longer qualify solely on its technical capacities, but also meet new demands in the field of product design, usability and features. This was no doubt a critical challenge for the development team in Schmiden near Stuttgart. On the other hand, one needs to realize that the launch of endless tablets and smartphones in recent years, has slowly but steadily introduced fundamentally new operating concepts in our everyday lives. The ease-of-use of the touchscreen is largely responsible for this phenomenon.
Only digital is not enough!
The intuitive user comfort that consumer electronics has brought about will soon engulf industrial electronics design. While this is a much-welcomed development for consumers, it nonetheless puts manufacturers of technical and industrial measuring instruments like ourselves under pressure. Indeed, customers now have generally higher product expectations – for a given price that is. Fortunately, technological development progresses and the corresponding components become available to an ever-widening audience.
All these findings were incorporated to the development of Lufft XA1000 as the development project rapidly realized that meeting those expectations was absolutely necessary. In the development history of G. Lufft, XA1000 is the first device not being built on a licensed operating system – such as Microsoft Windows CE- while providing a graphics-capable display. XA1000’s glass surface also provides multi-touch capability, which demands the use of capacitive touch technology.
Besides pure screen operation, the control-cross printed directly on the glass can be optionally used for device navigation in the operating menu. During the development process, we encountered a major challenge in creating an attractive graphical user interface that could be adapted as free as possible to a given design.
The tall order was producing a timeless, functional and not too playful design for the user interface. Among other things, this took some basic steps to produce design sketches – and discarded some of them afterwards.
We had to go a long way to the final release!
As regards CPU selection, we relied on a new product, which includes an integrated graphics card for display control. The use of a separate graphics chip is no longer necessary. However, the integrated graphics unit had to be adapted to the display in use. It is worth noting that this adaptation at the beginning of the development phase proved more costly than anticipated. After six weeks of adaptation work, however, we ultimately managed to operate the color display. This arduous endeavor -as we later discovered – was indeed pioneering work. As it happened, no one had ever adapted this display to the chip. As it became clear, our extremely sunlight-readable display demanded an extremely complex control.
From this point, one could see the weekly development progress of the XA1000. As regards temperature and humidity measurement, we integrated a novel display method. This records measured values in a two-dimensional matrix, and makes a graphical analysis on a line graph directly in the device. Therefore, it was first necessary to establish good interaction between the user, acting with his/her finger on the glass surface, and the device. Along those lines, the development focus concentrated in the next stage on the control of the touch glass surface.
The intuitive user interface
In particular, we had to convert a finger-triggered command into a usable signal for the computer. In recent times, given that this is a new and exciting area for the whole industry, it has emerged a small yet very distinctive market segment, which is currently being covered by only a few chip suppliers. This supply is currently a cut-throat competition, where information should be kept secret for as long possible.
As a result, it was necessary to sign a confidentiality agreement to gain access to relevant information for driving such a touch-sensitive glass surface. Thus, the development department at Lufft was introduced to the exciting world of so-called virtual touch objects. A completely new operating concept. The application possibilities appear endless.
With USB connectivity, the XA1000 can connected to Lufft’s own software, “SmartGraph3.” This is included in the scope of supply. Device software updates provided by Lufft are available with just one click.
The result can be viewed in our new product film about the Lufft XA1000 – The smartphone of measurement technology:
For more information about our new X-Series of handheld devices visit the website www.lufft-xseries.com!