"Multi-touch Navigation, So What?!"

That was my somewhat negative response to the product team when they announced this capability was available on our QuickPanel+.

What we’re talking about here is the same technique you use today on commercial tablets, where you can pinch and zoom and swipe across screens. Yes, I can see it being easier for someone using a tablet to be familiar with our operator interface navigation, but I did not see it as a big deal for an automation operator interface, much to the bemusement of our product team.Barry Lynch_tom craven at packexpo 2014

Then at PACK EXPO 2014, Tom Craven, the QuickPanel+ product manager, gave a presentation and the light bulb finally came on for me in a big way. He did one simple thing; he held his finger on the capacitive glass and a menu popped up showing all the displays he could open. BINGO—I get it. No need to create those cumbersome navigation button menus to take someone to a screen and then take them home or back where they came from.

Speaking as a former developer of these displays, it was a huge pain to create and maintain and took up real estate on the screen. And when a new display was added, it was a huge job to link it to all the other existing screens.

Now, as soon as a new screen gets added, it’s available to navigate to by simply touching the screen or swiping, but still with all the security access you would expect from an OI. But critically, this capability simplifies the development, maintenance and operation of the panel for the OEM and the end user. You can also use it to replace dedicated pop-up menus that we used to create for each value or push button; that’s a huge amount of time and user training that’s not required anymore.

So, Tom, I am sorry; QuickPanel+ product team, I am sorry for being a bit slow on the uptake on this. Amazing, just one simple demo showed me what you all knew but I was missing. If you want to take a peek yourself, there is a short video here that lets you see the multi-touch features. If anyone asks me now, I think it’s pretty cool; and when you have watched the video, I bet you will, too!

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Barry Lynch

Barry, Global Marketing Director – Automation Hardware at GE's Automation & Controls business, passionately believes that connected machines, mobile data analytics and workforce enablement don’t have to be hurdles in business today. He leads the strategic direction of the company’s automation and information systems programs to help customers apply the power of the Industrial Internet to their businesses. By connecting machines, data, insights and people, our technology solutions deliver critical insight for greater operational efficiency, effectiveness and optimization. Learn more about how Barry works at GE on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @BarryLynchGE.

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