Usability in measurement technology: Saving valuable time. And a lot of money!

Operating errors in test and measurement equipment may cause significant costs to companies. These do not only arise from extra test bench time that has to be allowed for; what might turn out to be really expensive is the development of new components and products based on wrong measurement data.

"Usability", i.e. convenient use of test and measurement equipment helps to avoid these costs - and to save time during actual measurement. Usability pays off. How to achieve optimal usability of professional test and measurement equipment?

Modern test and measurement software, for example, Perception 6.0 from HBM is an indispensable tool for experts in test and measurement. No wonder, as powerful data acquisition applications leave little if nothing to be desired. Especially with regard to individual configuration options for preparing a measurement.

However, configuring software might become a real challenge to users who take measurements only infrequently, alongside their actual job. This takes up valuable time and, in addition, - due to faulty configuration - often leads to incorrect test results. These are detected, at best, and the measurement is repeated, which is rather time consuming. However, if measurement errors go undetected, the impact is much more dramatic - and might result in faulty design of components due to incorrect measurement data.

HBM's new video provides more information about the GEN2i usability concept:

User-friendly Test and Measurement Equipment

Test and measurement equipment that is particularly user-friendly (i.e. offers high usability) and therefore prevents misadjustments right from the start provides many significant and clear advantages:

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use test equipment substantially reduces training effort - this is a real plus, if many users taking measurements are frequently not invloved
  • Measurement solutions designed with a focus on the user drastically reduce the expenditure of time per measurement. The time required for adjustments can be neglected, the measurement system is immediately ready for use, essential test results are instantly available.
  • An easy-to-use, pre-configured measurement solution eliminates the risk of operating errors and faulty configuration, thus operating errors and incorrect measurements are a thing of the past
  • Ease of use and guaranteed, reliable test results save valuable time and money.
  • Fast acquisition of reliable measurement data ensures more efficient operating processes.

There are many good reasons to substantially improve interaction between man, measurement technology, and software. Through a deliberate focus on essential functions and noticeably enhanced software ergonomics. The magic word is 'usability' - in measurement technology too. After all, the majority of measurement tasks in day-to-day practice are no longer carried out by highly specialized measurement engineers. In fact, development teams of engineers and mechanics need to take important measurements virtually alongside their regular duties. This is a situation that consumes both valuable time and money. It also holds - as already mentioned above - substantial potential for error. It's high time for test and measurement equipment that thinks ahead!

Usability in short

'Usability' in short: Man and machine understand each other well

User-friendly design of software and hardware, as well as the user interface for communication between man and machine, is the decisive factor for the quality of interaction between man and computer. The design of interactive systems thus needs to focus on the interface's usability (also called user-friendliness or ease of use) to ensure optimal man-machine interaction.

A computer program's usability mainly depends on its ergonomics. Thus, the primary goal is to create easy-to-understand and quick-to-use software. Software ergonomics focuses on man at work, his/her skills and individual requirements in the context of using software to enable an optimal man-machine-interface to be provided. The level of usability is defined by the quality of usage subjectively experienced by users when operating a system. Accordingly, an easy-to-use interface matching users and their tasks is considered to be particularly user-friendly. Therefore, an application's usability is also defined as the product of its effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction.

Advantages that really pay off

Usability in measurement technology: Advantages that really pay off

Professional test and measurement software is outstanding - as has already been addressed - for its multiple functions and options for use and configuration. Nearly 90 percent of these features are not needed in day-to-day measurement. Today, the majority of measurement tasks is in fact generally carried out by engineers or skilled workers who have only basic measurement technology knowledge. If this is the case, omnipotent software solutions are frequently oversized. In this context, their many advantages often are reversed into their opposite. Solutions that are easy to use and reliably provide correct results are required here; in short: test and measurement systems that are outstanding for their exemplary usability.

HBM GEN2i Redefines Usability

Revolution in measurement technology: HBM's GEN2i redefines usability

With GEN2i, HBM presents a cutting edge, portable data recorder, which plays to its strengths where reliable and correct measurement counts. And which convinces particularly through its exemplary usability and top performance. GEN2i is easily operated through a touch screen - an operating concept only known from modern, mobile devices so far. The user interface has been designed with due diligence and has been consistently 'touch-optimized' to enable the GEN2i to be completely controlled via the touch screen. In practice this means:

  • All operator controls have the ideal size from the ergonomics point of view and have been optimally positioned on the user interface to enable efficient use - both by right and left handed users!
  • Gestures for zooming, rotating, and dragging are fully supported.
  • All functions can be quickly and easily activated and incorrect entries easily corrected.
  • No complex text entry is required for controlling GEN2i.

Convenient and intuitive control ensures that GEN2i makes test results instantly available - quickly and without error. This saves valuable time and money.

What to users of a device seems to be clear and easy, is the result of many years of research in usability and user navigation. Every menu, every GEN2i function has been tested with regard to its benefit for the standard measurement tasks - and, if required, integrated into the user interface. With the following result:

  1. GEN2i is instantly ready for use upon startup. No software needs to be started in addition, instead the system already starts up with the screen on which the measurement can be launched.
  2. The smart user interface is completely self-evident and does not require any sub-menus. Every device function can be quickly accessed tipping once or twice with a finger. "Nesting" and a linear navigation structure have been done away with.
  3. Measurements can be directly started with a single push on the touch screen - tipping a finger on the start arrow key is sufficient. Controls known, for example, from consumer electronics have deliberately been chosen to allow intuitive use of the GEN2i data recorder.

The new user interface combines the advantages of the tried and tested predecessor product "Nicolet VISION" with the experience and know-how of HBM product developers and usability experts - plus thorough research. Particular attention has been paid to the design of the new, revolutionary user interface to ensure optimal usability of GEN2i.

However, GEN2i is not only outstanding for its usability. This next -generation measuring instrument also features cutting edge technology: StatStream™ by HBM enables test results to be quickly visualized, even if huge amounts of data are involved - gigabytes of data are displayed within 4 seconds. This is a matter of usability as well.

A particularly useful function for long-term measurements: Preview while Recording, a function that delivers previews for first analyses already during the measurement. Even a power failure or system shutdown during measurement are not a problem with GEN2i. All settings are automatically saved and the measurement is automatically continued as soon as the system has been rebooted.

'Usability' means that operating a device is made easier for users. However, usability is not meant to be patronizing. This is why GEN2i offers a classical PC interface including a full version of Perception software for specific tasks. Toggling between the two interfaces is very easy - and stored data is automatically transmitted.

GEN2i, the revolution in terms of usability in test and measurement technology is first choice for all users who attach great importance to ease of use and high-quality results!

2012 Application Design Contest Winner

GEN2i has been awarded by the Nielsen Norman Group

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