A technology that promises a new way of displaying information without add- ing to ‘information overload’ has been designed by a South African.
Sarel Wagner designed Geo-metrica, a
shape-based technology that converts signal data from sensors into
Geometrica received its preliminary patent in January and is 100% local content. Research shows that one of the main reasons for fatalities is human error, causing misery and costing millions – Europe, for instance, spends €45-billion on accidents on a yearly basis.
The benefit of Geometrica, says its developer, is that one does
not have to interpret information, and the technology is fast in
Geometrica was designed by going back to the first principles of vision science and cognition, and the way they relate to human/machine interface and computing.
“I also looked at the human eye: the way it works, how we
see and how we process this information to form the mental picture.
“This information has only become available in the last few
years and is based on information from a number of research
projects worldwide. Most of our awareness is based on our vision.
“This is what Geometrica is based upon,” says
He adds that eyes have two parallel channels used to process information, but people only use the focus channel to read instruments and gauges. They lose out on the potential to process much more information at the same time, and cannot read by not focusing on words or instruments. “The only solution is by finding a way to read when not looking at something. Even complex shapes are easily and quickly recognised. “I have found a way to use this capability advantageously, allowing humans to easily read without focusing on data display,” Wagner maintains.
Geometrica works by allowing users to convert any sensor data into a basic shape. It combines in a logical way data streams to form a shape, and then changes it according to the data. “We manipulate this shape or multiple shapes and its associated data to form the geometric shape in such a way that, when all sensor data is in its desired or nominal state, the shape formed is geometric.”
Sensors for exhaust-gas temperature, coolant temperature, battery voltage and oil pressure are found in almost all engines or factories. The nominal points are selected to form a square shape, and when all signals are in their nominal state, they form a square of a particular size. If, for example, the coolant temperature now rises above its operationally safe value, the side of the square representing the coolant signal now moves away and the geometric shape is changed and broken.
The side movement indicates the relative rise in temperature by changing its length and growing longer, and its colour signifies the rise in temperature. The thickness of the lines may be changed to draw attention to it.
Since there are multiple ways to encode the same data in this shape, it is a suitable way to display data. Generally, people are good at recognising shapes, and need not focus on the display, but are still able to instantly recognise that the data has changed. As we expect to see a geometric shape and we know what it must look like, our brain picks up the broken shape and processes this information while we are looking at and focussing on our primary task.
“In complex systems, we currently do not have the capability to monitor a single gauge and get a status overview of the system. Geometrica provides the means. “This is achieved by changing the data into status information and displaying new shapes based on the status of the lower-level shapes. “Data-to-status change is part of the patented geometric shape-based technology and is automatically applied to data signals.
“This allows us to display the status of very complex systems with a single shape. “The technology is applicable in many market sectors – from vehicle to nuclear power plants, factories, spacecraft, aircraft and traffic signals,” reiterates Wagner.