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MTConnect + Google Glass Innovates Machine Tools

July 12, 2013

Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO), Plymouth, Ind., has released MTConnect + Google Glass, a free application that monitors machine tools using Google Glass, the cutting edge interface that builds a camera, touchpad, microphone, email and Internet connection into eyeglass frames.

MTConnect—a set of standards that link shop floor technologies in an effort to streamline manufacturing operations—coupled with Google Glass will provide a view into the manufacturing process where the user will be liberated from laptops and hand-held devices. That person will be able to travel the shop floor, gathering and sharing machine data provided by MTConnect while accessing the Internet for additional information.

The opportunities inspiring the merger between MTConnect and Google Glass are twofold. The first opportunity is in the exploitation of augmented reality (AR). AR gives the user a composite view that combines real-world perspective with a virtual scene that includes sound, graphics, GPS data and, in this case, manufacturing data. Google Glass becomes an extension of MTConnect's view into machines, providing user-friendly access to manufacturing data.

The second opportunity lies in the commonalities between MTConnect and Google Glass: The implementation of both is easily achievable, and they are extensible and scalable. Both could be implemented on a small scale and grow with the needs and knowledge base of the facility.

With MTConnect + Google Glass, a new machine operator can watch YouTube training videos while at the machine to supplement his training program. An experienced machine operator can send an email to the maintenance staff when he sees a problem. The CEO can walk the shop floor, receiving real-time machine data and comparing it to the company's accounting, quality control, sales and engineering data.

As data streams from MTConnect agents, Google Glass can recognize the machine tool, grab appropriate information from MTConnect and parse the stream to display pertinent information. Additionally, if a camera is inside the machine, Google Glass can stream the video to the user and overlay machine data so the user can compare, analyze and make decisions. The user can then record and share this data with all appropriate parties.