Voice Machine Interface and Microsoft Cortana: a match made in heaven

Melissa Topp explains how the solutions are helping plant managers and field service personnel perform various functions

Melissa Topp
By Melissa Topp on 06 August 2019
Voice Machine Interface and Microsoft Cortana: a match made in heaven

This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

In the movie ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’, an engineer named Scotty and his crew mates travelled back from the 23rd-century to 1986 and come across a computer from that era. Considering the keyboard and mouse as ‘quaint’, Scotty opts to speak to the device. Fast forward 33 years from 1986, and the voice control capability that Scotty took for granted is now available in real life. In fact, it is just one of multiple user interfaces for computing and data use.

ICONICS, a global developer of automation software solutions, has introduced a new Voice Machine Interface (VMI) to its GENESIS64 HMI/SCADA and building automation suite. The VMI supports voice-based digital assistants like Microsoft Cortana, interpreting users’ voice commands to perform various functions, such as monitoring the status of systems and processes, controlling equipment and devices, and analysing key performance indicators. ICONICS’ VMI technology helps plant and operations managers, facility maintenance technicians, executives and other personnel to leverage the convenience of hands-free, natural language interaction. This boosts productivity and improves operational efficiency.

The new VMI joins ICONICS’ existing Holographic Machine Interface (HMI), which was developed to integrate with Microsoft HoloLens. This tandem can be used in applications such as maintenance and remote assistance, or with other cloud services via ICONICS’ IoTWorX software solution, which communicates with Microsoft Azure using transport protocols. The combination can also be used with the Microsoft Azure Digital Twins platform, where data from connected equipment can be accessed anywhere – often over the industrial internet of things – to create real-time virtualised models for monitoring and control. It can then be applied to use cases like collaborative robotics (known as cobots).

ICONICS, which coincidentally started business in 1986, has consistently responded to its automation software customers’ user interface needs. Initially starting with an early disk operating ­system-based command prompt solution, ICONICS user interfaces have evolved to include standalone Windows-compatible applications (including the GENESIS64 HMI/SCADA and building automation suite), its web browser-based WebHMI product, and its MobileHMI app, which runs on smartphones and tablets. As new device form factors – such as voice-based digital assistants, head-mounted wearables, and advanced smart watches – continue to emerge, ICONICS will work with hardware manufacturers and technology pioneers like Microsoft to ensure the user interface compatibility of its software solutions.

If he had travelled to 2019, Scotty would certainly appreciate ICONICS’ wide array of modern user interfaces that visualise, historise, mobilise, analyse and cloud-enable data in any enterprise. 

Melissa Topp, senior director of global marketing at ICONICS

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