Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - 6

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EXPERT Insight
How Programmable Switches Enable Smarter Display
A key challenge for product designers and developers is understanding the role that switches play in enhancing the user interface of the
whole system. Enabling the subsystem to easily plug into an existing system and providing a quick startup are critical to the success of the
product, whether it's a patient monitor or a remotely operated vehicle. In this interview, Lee Pistor, Business Relationship Manager at NKK
Switches (Scottsdale, AZ) discusses these challenges and explores how a solution such as a SmartDisplay - an electromechanical switch combined
with a graphic programmable display - puts multiple functions in one location, providing ease of use for operators and enhancing the
value of the device.
Tech Briefs: What is the most important
consideration for selecting the right
switch or platform for the product or
system?
Lee Pistor: This is basic, but the switch
must work. That's got to be the first and
foremost thought in the designer's mind,
and it doesn't really matter the application.
With 4 million switches and over 70 years' experience, we have seen
almost every type of application possible. This ranges from animal
clippers used by veterinarians in the field, to surgical instruments,
to medical imaging equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of
dollars. It really doesn't matter the application or the cost of the
product - if that switch doesn't work, that product's a failure.
Tech Briefs: What are some of the innovations that NKK has
applied to switch technology?
Pistor: One recent innovation that I really like is a dual sealed
toggle. And we've always produced IP 67-rated toggles that prevent
water and dust ingress into the switch and behind the panel of the
equipment. But we found that a lot of customers will also mount a
rubber boot on that switch. It wears, and it can tear, so we took a
fully sealed switch with an external boot and then we put a very
elegant looking chrome actuator on top of that. It wears well, and it
looks good. And, by doing that dual seal, we found that we've been
able to achieve a higher rating (IP 68), meaning that the switch can
be submerged in water for periods of time.
Tech Briefs: What are some of the unique and distinctive characteristics
of NKK's Smart Display that enable it to elevate a
product to the next level?
Pistor: The SmartDisplay is a momentary switch and married with
a graphic display on the face or on the button of that switch. It
can be either a backlit LCD or we also have full color OLED capable
of 64,000 different colors and displaying video. It's under an
inch square, and it's fully programmable. The design engineer can
program or dictate any text, graphics, or video to be run on the
switch itself. It has a tactile feel and while touchscreens are great,
the SmartDisplay offers the flexibility of a graphic display with the
necessary reliability in mission-critical application.
Tech Briefs: How does integrating a solution such as a Smart
Display into a panel design help revolutionize the switch interface?
Pistor: Legends can be changed instantly with a software change
or command. For example, customers shipping their products
around the world, may need to change languages. They can easily
6
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do that instantly with the programmable SmartDisplay. The function
can also change in real time. This allows for a simple space
saving, compact design that is more ergonomic for the user. Status
or live data can be displayed instantly, directly on the switch. The
SmartDisplay can also be located at the point of action instead of a
more centrally located touchscreen.
Tech Briefs: Can you share an example application that integrated
a Smart Display and how it changed the product or
system?
Pistor: One of my favorites is a remotely operated submersible
vehicle that would go down thousands of feet. They had a large
cumbersome 3 × 5 ft control panel that sat on the deck of the ship.
It had a confusing array of push button switches, toggle switches,
and illuminated switches. They took 36 of our Smart Displays and
they designed control panel into a captain's chair. With this chair,
they were able to move the submersible from inside the ship. It
controlled the robotic arms, the thrusters, and the various cameras.
If they were doing a specific dive and they added a new robotic arm,
the controls could easily be reconfigured.
Watch the full interview with Lee
Tech Briefs, May 2022
TB Expert Insight NKK 0522_1.indd 6
Cov
ToC
4/18/22 3:55 PM
http://www.techbriefs.com http://info.hotims.com/82321-831

Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022

Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Cov2
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - 1
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - 2
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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - 4
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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Cov3
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - Cov4
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-Cov2
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-1
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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-19
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-20
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-21
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-22
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-23
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-24
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-25
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-26
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-27
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-28
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-Cov3
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - PIT-Cov4
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-Cov1a
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-Cov1b
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-Cov2
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-1
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-2
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-3
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-4
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-5
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-6
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-7
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-8
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-9
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-10
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-11
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Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-23
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-24
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-25
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-26
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-27
Tech Briefs Magazine - May 2022 - BET-Cov3
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