Archives October 2020

Voice Control Panel PC

Building Skill-free Alexa Voice Control into IoT Devices

Voice Control Panel PC

Voice control is the successor of touch screen interface used in products like smartphones, tablets, home automation, in-vehicle control, vending machines, kiosk and Human Machine Interface (HMI).  It is the next big thing of user Interface (UI), especially for artificial intelligence enabled IoT devices, ranging from smart home products to industrial control panels.  According to ABI Research, “last year, 141 million voice control smart home device shipped worldwide.”  In 2020, “voice control device shipments will grow globally by close to 30% over 2019.”

Since the original Echo device was brought to market in 2014, Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is becoming one of the most popular voice recognition and natural language understanding (NLU) artificial intelligent services for building connected voice control IoT devices. These devices are defined as Alexa built-in products. They can be built with industrial computers, panel PCs, tablet computers or other embedded systems with microphones, speaker and Internet connection. With these products, you can initiate with your voice commands, get responses from Alexa, connect to the cloud and control peripherals with your voice.

Besides embedded control system layers like hardware, operating system and application software, the design of a Alexa built-in product also involves voice front end, Wake Word Engine (WWE), Alexa Voice Service (AVS) cloud services, AVS Device SDK integration, extra communication and control interfaces.

Selecting a Voice Front End

Voice front end is the forefront of a voice control device which mandates high-accuracy of picking up human voice in a noisy environment.  To ensure wake-word triggering and provide clear voice commands for interpretation, a typical voice front end consists of software or hardware DSPs to implement technologies like Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beamforming, noise suppression and Wake Word Engine (WWE). 

Loud music or speech playing back by the device is picked up by its microphones.  Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) subtracts the playback noise and allows the microphones to pick up voice commands.  Beamforming uses multiple microphones to locate the source of speech and attenuates all other background noises.  Noise suppression removes background noise to improve voice recognition. The Wake Word Engine WWE listens for the keyword (like “Alexa”) before taking action to send the following utterance for speech recognition and understanding.

Estone’s EMB-2238 reference design is one of the examples of voice front end solution.  It has built-in Amazon-qualified hardware DSP smart codec for AEC, noise suppression, high performance digital MEMS mic array for omni-directional spatial capture and support of Sensor’s TrulyHandsfre wake word engine tuned to “Alexa”.

Voice Front End

Embedding Alexa Voice Service (AVS)

Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is a cloud-based service that allows device developers to integrate Alexa features and functions into a connected voice enabled product. It provides access to complex speech recognition, natural language understanding, Alexa skills and capabilities in the cloud for Alexa built-in products.

After selecting the voice front end with sufficient memory, processing power and a wake word-enabled microphone array, the next step for the developers is the integration of Alexa Voice Service Device SDK. The AVS Device SDK consists of C++ based libraries to communicate with the cloud-based Alexa Voice Service. It also exposes AVS APIs for device application customizations.

Let’s say that when a user asks “Alexa, turn on the AC”. The Wake Word Engine detects the keyword “Alexa” and the device’s AVS API sends the audio as a sound clip (event) to Alexa Voice Service in the cloud. AVS validates the wake-word and uses automatic speech recognition (ASR) to turn the voice command into text. Then, the natural-language understanding (NLU) process interprets what the user wants and routes it to the appropriate skill and action defined in the cloud. AVS then sends the voice of Alexa via text-to-speech engine or action messages back to the device AVS interface as directives.

AVS Device SDK

AVS Device SDK runs on Linux, Android, Windows and macOS.  This video demonstrates the Alexa Voice Service integrated into a Yocto Linux based EMB-2238 voice control reference design.

Building Skill-free Alexa Voice Control

More and more developers are building IoT devices using voice to control their unique hardware or custom peripherals. These products are not just as simple as controlling single-function smart light bulbs or smart plugs. For example, a recreational vehicle (RV) control panel controls HAVC, lighting, exhaust fans, generator, awning and many more. The peripherals being controlled are often connected via CAN bus, serial ports like RS-232/485, general-purpose input/output (GPIO) or wireless communication like WiFi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, etc.

The standard way for the developers to add Alexa voice control into their products is to build separate custom Alexa Skills for their devices and maintain them in a separate cloud. That device maker’s cloud is then used to interface to Alexa Voice Service cloud and the connected device with peripherals being controlled (Figure 1).

Skill-free Alexa Voice Control

However, in many cases, the products being developed may only have a few simple control interface type like the following:

  • Power – control the on and off a connected peripheral, such as turning on/off the exhaust fan.
  • Toggle – switch between two states, such as open or close the awning.
  • Range – set the range of continuous values of a peripheral property, such as setting the temperature of the HAVC.
  • Mode – set a set of values of a device’s operation mode, such as the theme of the ambient lighting.

These control interfaces are part of the Alexa Smart Home Skill API capability interfaces.  With the latest AVS Device SDK, developers can enable these smart home capabilities and add skill-free custom voice control functionality for their AVS devices.  Products running AVS client with Smart Home over AVS enabled can send and receive “Smart Home” events and directives for voice control with a single connection to the Alexa cloud (Figure 2, 3).  This video is a demonstration of Estone’s 7” PPC-4707 POE Panel PC development kit built with skill-free Alexa voice control.

Voice control technology redefines the Internet of Things. Many companies are choosing to use the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to add voice control capability to their products.  Efforts are underway to simplify the development experience, like providing qualified voice front end reference designs, creating integrated AVS voice control development kits and the introduction of skill-free Smart Home for AVS Device SDK, helping developers to get their voice-enabled designs to market faster.  Get your project started now.

To know more about Estone’s AVS voice control reference design products, see Embedded ARM Boards and Industrial Panel PCs on our website or contact us for details of your project.

Medical Tablets with Barcode Scanner

Tablet PC with Barcode Reader

The modern era advancements offer amazing technologies for healthcare sectors, warehouses, and other industries. Barcode technologies have redefined safety, efficacy, and errorless services while minimizing the human efforts and inaccuracies. With the help of the barcode scanner and its integration in various devices, the professionals can avoid data transmission using paper-based documents and improve inter-team collaboration through real- data management and collection. These integrations include handheld devices, tablets with barcode scanner, and more.

How Does a Barcode Scanner Work?

If you have ever been to a supermarket, you must have noticed the cashier using a barcode scanner or a barcode reader for pricing and packaging. All the modern era products have a barcode on the labeling. Any barcode tablet can quickly read this unique identification mark and fetch relevant results from the database. A barcode reader is an optical reader that can not only read the barcode labeled on the document but can decode it and send it back to the database.Every barcode reader consists of three main things: A light source,  a lens and alight sensor.Therefore, a barcode reader tablet can easily transform optical impulses into electrical signals.  Additionally, all barcodes have decoder circuitry that can quickly:

·       Decode and analyze the barcode from the product

·       Turn it into information

·       Send it to the barcode’s output port for further processing

The majority of products contain a simple barcode, known as a UPC (Universal Product Code). These barcodes also contain a number underneath them. The user can manually input them if the barcode reader is not working. This eliminates any need for human labor and reduces the margin of errors. This is made possible with predefined software programs in any android barcode tablet.

This is how tablets with built in barcode scanners can help in every sector. A bar code scanner for tablets allows modern-era managers and employees to easily take care of everything with a central database.

Benefits of Using a Tablet with Barcode Scanner

Modern era windows tablet with integrated barcode scanner offers a lot of benefits to the users. Let’s take a look.

·      Save Time.

The first and foremost benefit of using a barcode scanner is time efficiency. All the barcode scanners can quickly scan the barcode within a few seconds and allow the users to do inventory checks quickly.

Every tablet with built in barcode scanner minimizes the amount of time required for inventory management and makes the entire process more efficient by eliminating the need for physically checking everything in the inventory.

·      Minimize Labor Costs.

The second most important benefit of using a rugged tablet pc with barcode scanner is reducing labor costs as it only takes a few minutes to learn how to use a barcode scanner.

Moreover, since the time is also minimized with the help of a barcode scanner, the laborers will not have to spend weeks doing inventory management, which can result in a decrease in labor costs.

·      Reduce the Margin of Errors.

Another important benefit of using a barcode scanner is reducing errors since minimum human labor will be involved. Barcode scanners can easily scan the unique barcode and verify everything with a central database to reduce the margin of error. 

All the employees will have to do is scan the barcode with the windows tablet with built in barcode scanner and wait for the machine to take care of everything.

·      Have a Better Control over The Inventory?

With the help of a rugged android tablet barcode scanner, managers will be able to control the inventory better and will be able to stay constantly in sync with the current inventory.

The managers can easily check the inventory’s current status and ensure that everything is in place, including the quantity, shipping, and receiving. With the help of a centralized database system, the managers can also look up what stocks are not moving and get rid of unused stocks for more products in the warehouse.

·      Offer an Enhanced Level of Customer Service.

Lastly, barcode scanners can help offer an enhanced customer service level by allowing them to take care of everything quickly. The users can easily cater to customer queries by letting them know what items are available or when these items will be available as soon as possible with the help of a barcode scanner.

The customers will not have to wait for hours for the managers to get back to them. And they can quickly look up everything within seconds when they have a barcode scanner in their hands.

Moreover, a centralized database system will also alert the managers when certain stock is getting low. They can quickly get a refill from the supplier without making the clients wait for weeks for the specific product.

Medical Tablets with Barcode Scanner Application

Rugged medical tablets are slowly becoming a norm in most healthcare sectors as a tablet with a barcode scanner can easily take the daily wear and tear. Moreover, a rugged medical tablet with a barcode scanner is also waterproof and can easily withstand any chemical discharge on the front screen.

Every medical tablet with barcode scanner is also fast and offers quick information at the hands of doctors and medical practitioners. Therefore, the modern era tablets and barcode scanners can help the healthcare sectors reduce any admission errors or hospital care errors with a centralized database system.

With the help of a tablet with a barcode scanner, the doctors and medical practitioners can easily offer an enhanced level of patient care. The doctors will be able to scan the barcode associated with the patient, and have all the documents readily available in front of them.

They will not have to shuffle through hundreds of paper-based documents, and can easily view all documents, x-rays, CT scans, etc., within a minute. These barcode scanners and medical tablets can also reduce any pharmacy errors and allow doctors to better diagnose patients with the help of quick information available to them. Our medical android Tablet MJ-80  built with integrated barcode scanner and it can be used for asset management, patient identification and more. With an IP65 water resistance and housing antimicrobial features, it is easy for cleaning and disinfection, ideal for the usage in the medical facilities in the COVID-19 times.

Medical Tablets with Barcode Scanner

The pharmacists will have all the information regarding the patient’s prescriptions in front of them. This way, they will reduce the margin of error by filling out the right pills. They will not mix up different paper receipts for prescriptions and will be able to offer the right medication for all patients.

Barcode Scanner Tablet application in Logistic

Any modern era tablet with an integrated barcode scanner can easily help take better control over the inventory management at any warehouse.The centralized database system can also inform the managers about what stocks are not moving and how to eliminate those stocks to make space for new items and products.The rugged tablet with barcode scanner can also be applied in almost any rugged environments from inventory control, shipping and receiving, to dynamic fulfillment ,enabling data collection, seamless communication, and automation in the logistic system, allowing efficient workflows, accurate inventory records, low costs, and minimal handling errors.

Moreover, application of tablets with barcode scanners can also reduce labor costs for inventory management as everything can be done within accuracy and efficiency. The barcode technology applied in tablet PCs  can also reduce the margin of error by taking care of everything with pre-programmed software applications. Consider an example of Estone technology’s Rugged tablet with barcode scanner UA-80. This handheld tablet with barcode scanner and RFID reader is an ideal product for logistic applications.

Tablet with Barcode Scanner Application in Manufacturing Facilities

Modern era barcode scanners can easily help manufacturing facilities by offering a powerful control over inventory management, orders, and shipments. Mobile devices with a Barcode scanner can bring these technologies into more powerful applications, with more efficiency and accuracy. 

The managers can easily take a look at what stocks need to be pushed out to different companies within the next week and can take care of everything with the help of a centralized database system that comes with a barcode scanner.

Moreover, the laborers can also take care of inventory by quickly scanning the items that have been produced and marking them “ready for shipment.” An android tablet with an integrated barcode scanner centralizes the entire process. It allows the managers and laborers to have more control over the shipment and manufacturing process from the very beginning.

All modern businesses need powerful control over their inventory management and need to adapt paperless management methods.

Therefore, tablets with barcodes are extremely effective as it offers a centralized database system for taking care of everything and offers a singular platform for a wide array of internal processes.The pre-programmed software applications can be designed to alert the managers in case of any emergencies, and they can take care of everything without wasting any minute.

Barcode Tablet Application in other fields

TheTablet with barcode scanner  application is not limited to the logistics and healthcare sector. The fields of transportation, retails, food, Anti-counterfeiting, military and so on are heavily dependent on this advanced technology. There is still a long way to go for the full incorporation of the barcode technology on the large scale in all industries to ease the operational management and minimize human errors.

A handheld tablet with barcode scanner will not only maximize the efficacy of the scanning and the overall asset and supply chain management processes it will also reduce the human errors while maximizing outputs for the companies. The fields of medicine and supply chain have been integrating the tablets with barcode readerswhile many other industries can effectively incorporate this technology in their manufacturing and production sector. 

To know more about our products in these categories, see rugged tablets and medical grade tablets on our website or contact us for details of your project. You can customize them to your business and get your deals and tracking done on the go.