Escape the LCD Trap

Escape the LCD Trap for Your Appliance Interface

Any appliance that requires configuration, requires a Human Machine Interface (HMI). The most common solutions for this are either an LCD with navigation keys, or a tactile LCD.  These solutions however often leave users dissatisfied.

Take for example our partners case with electric radiators and space heaters. Legislation in several countries required that they build-in controls for programming hourly usage. This required a moderately complex HMI. Our partner came to us after they discovered that fewer than 20% of users programmed their products – in spite of the potential for energy and cost savings!

Is an on-board LCD really the best approach for the end-user, and for the ROI of the companies designing these systems? For our partners, the clear answer was a resounding NO! Here’s what they discovered…

Mobile Apps & Wireless are Easier Than Imagined

Smartphones are the new alternative to the LCDs on appliances. They are also an alternative that is much more accessible than appliance designers imagine.

Duetware-based wireless modules and software ecosystem allow designers to create a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) HMI literally in minutes. Designers and marketers can then make informed decisions about usage based on that PoC and adapt it incrementally to arrive at the final customized app. And all this can be done without any coding and without major modification to existing embedded software or circuitry!

Duetware Overcomes Wireless, HMI, IoT Challenges Duetware Solves a Host of Technical Challenges and Offers a Direct Integration Path

Duetware pre-implements wireless on the device side and on the mobile side. It includes key protocols that we use in our mobiles:

  • NFC (Near Field Communication) for rapid, close proximity configuration
  • Bluetooth Low Energy for longer duration connections where range is a convenience
  • Wi-Fi for additional range and bandwidth. 
  • NFC is used with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to improve ergonomics, security and power consumption when connecting to and using appliances.

Duetware is also implemented so that changing wireless technology (ex. from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi) is as easy as plugging in and configuring a new Duetware based wireless module. Otherwise all aspects (security, communications, access control, etc.) require no modifications to any software for the target appliance, or for the mobile app.

Designers, don’t waste time coding new features or re-coding appliance firmware. In the IoTize Studio software environment, they create a configuration in a simple drag-and-drop process. They make settings to customize the graphical display and controls. Then cloud-based tools automatically generate mobile apps that correspond to their configuration. And, they do this all rapidly with very little expertise.

By eliminating the challenges of wireless integration and app creation, the Duetware solution reduces:

  • Overall project complexity
  • Design effort and time
  • Risks of project failure and dead ends

The bottom line is that this shortens time-to-market of an initial project and its subsequent evolutions. This greatly improves the possibility of capitalizing on opportunities and improves ROI.

LCD vs Duetware-Based Mobile Apps

Our HVAC partners tried our approach compared to their previous projects to create on-board user interfaces using and LCD. Here are some of the advantages they encountered:

LCD-based HMI

Duetware Mobile Apps

Complicated HMI logic
specific to designers
Users are familiar with mobile apps,
their organization & controls
Users have to sit or kneel to
access controls
Apps place controls directly
in users' hands
Age poorly due to constant
contact & cleaning
Users update/upgrade
material (mobile)
Security is weak or
Security features are
Long development time
for basic results
Create a PoC in minutes. Refining takes
a fraction of the design effort
High cost for design skills
& components
Low costs due to pre-implemented
features & automatic app generator
Difficult to evolve
or upgrade
Evolve easily by creating
new apps
High energy consumption
for LCDs
Display is deported to the mobile
reduces consumption


Mobile HMI Apps are the Way to the Future

For heating appliances, where fewer than 1 in 5 owners configured their products, the majority weren’t benefiting from cost and energy savings. The on-board user controls were largely a waste of effort. Most users were not even aware of features that they had paid for.

Accessing and entering configuration parameters using a mobile app can dramatically improve a user’s understanding of the appliance’s features. Users are more likely to both use and appreciate the innovations that designers are embedding in their appliances.

So what are you waiting for? Why don't you put your innovations on your customer's smartphone with a Duetware-based mobile app?


Contact Us to Learn More...

Interested in creating your appliance HMI as a mobile app? Contact us and arrange your personalized demo: