Using Realtime 3D Visualization in IoT

Guest post by Jaakko Ala-Paavola, Head of IoT Business at Espotel

IoT (the Internet of Things) is revolutionizing many traditional industries, with the connected car as a prime example. Rightware’s Kanzi UI design technology has shown what can be done by providing intuitive and quickly understandable information to the driver. However, the automotive environment is not the only application which benefits from visualization techniques. There is a vast number of cockpits ranging from tractors to airplanes where visualization can make a huge difference, especially when combined with real-time sensor data.

Visual imaging, either video stream or rendered graphics, requires significant bandwidth to deliver. In a home or office environment this is usually not an issue. In field installations or in industrial environments however, bandwidth may be not available in sufficient amount or it is too expensive to be used. Video compression algorithms can be used up to a point, but they do not solve the whole issue.

This is an area where sensor based visualization may help in many remote control and monitoring applications. Measuring physical process, sending sensor data only, and then visualizing the data locally in the remote destination saves a lot of data transfer bandwidth. Depending on type and number of sensors, the generated real-time data flow can be much smaller than a single live video stream, even when using a low resolution.
Video streams require a refresh rate of 20Hz or more in order for the human being to feel it comfortable to watch. 10 Hz is irritating and 1 Hz is just a series of still images. Rendered visualization can provide an artificial refresh rate much higher than the actual data rate by interpolating intermediate frames. The lower the data update rate, the longer the latency in between real physical phenomena and visualization on screen. An interval of 1 sec would cause latency of almost 2 seconds, but the user still experiences smooth movements on screen.

Video: Digger IoT concept created with Rightware Kanzi

In this video, a toy digger is instrumented with a number of add-on sensors. The on-board computer transmits sensor readings to the cloud at 10 times per second by using a WiFi connection. The tablet running visualization app implemented with Kanzi receives data from the cloud with variating delay and jitter. However, movements of the digger are smooth when rendered on the screen and they occur almost in real-time.

DiggerConceptIn the industrial and infrastructure domains there are many facilities that are remote monitored and controlled, including various pumping stations, water treatment plants, and power generation units such as solar, wind and small scale bio-energy plants. Visualization of the processes of those plants can provide more intuitive and fast to understand view to the overall situation of the process that just text and numbers or video stream.

The world is full of M2M applications equipped only with a 2G cellular data connection, making streaming video impossible due to price and bandwidth limitations. Sensor data however, not only takes less bandwidth to transfer, but also has smaller memory footprint to store. This makes it possible to store historical data and re-render events when necessary, regardless of time and place.

Sensor field visualization is yet another IoT example. Let’s assume a number of sensor are distributed geographically or by other mean. Each sensor delivers a small amount of data, but all together they provide something meaningful about environmental conditions or about the assets under monitoring. It’s easy to understand visualization of such data is much more human-friendly than plain list of many numbers.

Internet of Things is here and now, 3D visualization makes it richer. Now innovators wanted!


Jaakko Ala-Paavola linkedin

The writer is Head of IoT Business former CTO of Espotel, the leading IoT integrator in the Nordics. Espotel provides product development and end-to-end IoT solutions to various businesses, including industrial, medical, defense and telecommunication sectors. Visit Jaakko's blog here.

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