Changing the Face of Displays…One Button at a Time

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Emilijo_Mihatov.jpgEmilijo Mihatov: One conceptual project where our teams came together was to create a multi-level high-rise elevator panel using picture key technology for an imaginary company that owns a marine park. What we did was take our Picture Key Technology and incorporate it into a brand-new device. Instead of using the individual sugar-cube-shaped image conduits, we used Incom's latest technology, the bonded polymer as a single monolithic block. Incom uses a milling machine to mill out the gaps between the raised areas for the buttons that brings the image up into surface of the button. It looks like the button has a screen inside but in reality there is a single larger screen about half an inch back.

Incom_PKT_Fairlight_elevator.jpgThis is also an example of our iCan technology, which is the interface between the controlling device and the target being controlled. You have an agent that runs on the system, which presents as a little icon on the task bar in Windows. It will run on a Windows PC, on Mac OS X, on Linux and we’ve even been able to compile it to run on some embedded systems as well. The control surfaces communicate with the agent running on that target system to be controlled by TCP/IP and we can send instructions from here to the target system using just about any protocol that exists. It could be a simple keyboard shortcut command, or it could be telnet, or we could send command line instructions to applications. It's one-to-many and also many-to-one. We can have many of these control systems communicating to a single target or we can have one control system sending multiple instructions to multiple targets using multiple protocols. It’s scalable, extensible and very flexible. You could even initiate C language scripts written in plain text.

You'll notice if I go more than four floors it will actually play an advertisement on the screen. One of the properties of the iCan software is that we have multiple graphic layers in the displays. So for the keys, you'll notice I have video playing there, but I've also got the floor numbers. The numbers are layer one, that green background is layer two, layer three was the advertisement playing and layer four, the back layer, is the actual video of the fish swimming around the tank. This software all comes with the system.

Fairlight_xstream.jpgThis technology ends up costing about half the price of traditional inside-the-button technology, and that's all because of Incom's polymer fused fiber optic. One of the other decks they have has what they call a bash button. It's a triangular button that has a screen inside it. Do you know how hard it is to get a screen the size of a triangle? It's nearly impossible. Then try doing it in a concave shape. But with Incom's image conduits it's all really simple.

Detarando: You can shape it and contour it in any particular way.

Matties: That's great.

Mihatov: It’s a big button with a dome on it that you can hit and it looks fantastic.

Matties: The gaming industry must be a huge market for this technology.

Incom_Gaming_Console.jpgDetarando: That's right. Fairlight was out front with their professional audio products, but the gaming industry was the first lower-end commercial market to really adopt this technology.

Mihatov: Now we're talking to manufacturers from all sorts of different industries. Can you imagine going to the DMV and taking your driving test using a panel of buttons with multiple choice answers within the keys themselves, or a manufacturing machine that has a control panel that actually gives you instructional videos on the buttons explaining what it does? Or maybe you have a multicultural workforce, and they push their own native language button and all of a sudden the user interface is in that language, all the buttons are labelled in that language, the instructions, and the text overlays in the videos that show you how the thing works can be in any language you want.

Matties: Gentlemen, this has been a very interesting discussion and again, congratulations and thanks for taking time to talk with me today.

Detarando: Thank you.

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