Invention has already saved automotive and manufacturing customers thousands each month by increasing productivity and reducing downtime; inventors envision new market for mobile apps designed for the plant floor.
Alpharetta, GA — iQuest, Inc. announced the issuance of their second US patent covering iQagent’s holistic display and recording technology. Released in 2012, iQagent is an awardwinning iOS app that displays data and resources associated with equipment it ‘recognizes’ on the plant floor.
The Macmillan Dictionary defines augmented reality as “the technology of combining real world images, video, etc. with computer-generated information and/or imagery”. Invention 8,861,924 makes claims about a mobile augmented reality display which identifies equipment and processes (called Points Of Interest, or POIs) and then integrates relevant process data and resource links into the video displayed on the screen. While the current iQagent App uses QR codes to identify POIs, this patent describes methods of identifying POIs using RFID tags.
“The problem is that resources are scattered all over the plant; workers waste time searching for information rather than completing tasks.” explained iQuest president Bob Meads. “Our invention solves that problem by associating data and resources with equipment; workers simply view the process through their tablet or smart phone to access information they need to do their job. For instance, users can scan a motor to track its speed, or chart a production line’s efficiency. They can check maintenance histories, consult schematics, report issues, or contact staff assigned to the area.” iQuest VP Patrick Meere notes that their invention also addresses one of the costliest problems in production environments: unplanned downtime. Often measured in thousands of dollars per hour, downtime costs multiply when key support personnel are offsite. Phone and email are often ineffective when trying to convey the right information to the remote technician, and resolution then must wait for help to arrive onsite.
iQagent records the device display so video, audio, process data, and written notes are compiled into a movie which is emailed to offsite support. As a result, downtime issues are communicated more effectively, allowing quick resolution and a huge cost savings for the plant.
Historically, manufacturers have been slow to adopt new technology, a trend that may be changing as smart phones and tablets gain wide acceptance on the plant floor. Early adopters of iQagent include a global pharmaceutical company and a major US automotive manufacturer. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement may cause security headaches for the IT department, but Meads sees it as an opportunity for companies to take advantage of devices their staff already own and want to use.“BYOD is a resource corporations are ready to exploit.” he said. “If the steady stream of smart devices arriving at the plant daily can be leveraged to increase productivity, security concerns will take a backseat to higher profits. Which means the market potential for industrial mobile apps is wide open.
Unfortunately, most mobile apps we’ve seen don’t offer anything new to plant floor users. They’re usually extensions of existing products, offering convenience rather than innovation. “iQagent is different.” Meads concluded. “We supply users with data and resources relevant to each task as they go about their workday. They get what they need, when and where they need it. And you can’t get more efficient than that.”
iQuest was founded in 1998 as an automation solution provider serving many industries. They recently began creating innovative mobile applications designed for production environments. For more information on iQagent, visit us at http://iQagent.com or visit our corporate site at