Introducing inspectAR 2.3 the newest release in our mission to accelerate electronics lab work. Whether you’re an electronics hobbyist, professional engineer, firmware developer, manager, or technician, our latest release will give you the tools and information you need to save time and money on your latest electronics project.
We are excited to introduce new features that make collaboration with your team incredibly easy. Enjoy the ability to add comments, create custom names, save overlay sets, and more. This is a big release with a large number of new features coming at once. It is unusual for us I know but we should begin releasing on closer to a monthly cadence between now and the New Year. Perhaps the most exciting part of this release are the new collaboration capabilities of the tool. At a time when access to hardware labs is being tightly restricted we are trying to bring you in there in a socially distanced way.
Mixed Reality Comments
Commenting is one of our most requested features and we are thrilled to finally be able to bring it to fruition. You can now carry out a full discussion within the context of the physical circuit board itself. The use cases for this feature are vast, a technician can identify an issue digitally, in a way that is relevant to an engineer without ever having to open an EDA viewer, or even worse, take a picture of the physical board and mark it up in PowerPoint or MS Paint.
Comments can be added to any net, component, or layer within the design, more general ‘board level’ comments are also available. Because your inspectAR project is effectively a digital twin of the design itself, you can click on the component in your video feed, have the full pinout of the component highlighted, and then add a comment for others on your team to act upon.
Overlay Save States
If there is one thing we have learned while building inspectAR, it is that circuit boards are full of incredibly tiny, complex objects that are difficult to understand. That’s why it is worth having inspectAR in the first place - our augmented reality software will continuously map your design onto the physical board via a camera, resolving the problem of where a component or test point is 30 times each second.
What we have found from some of our biggest power users is that even this is not enough to unwrap the complexity of electronics design and explain something to a non-engineer or non-designer of the board. Very often you need to display several overlays at once in order to understand a particular circuit or subsystem.
To solve this problem we have introduced save states: users now have the ability to save a current set of active overlays as a save state. You can add a title, add comments, and share it all with others.
Let’s Talk Use Cases:
Immediately this enables some pretty powerful, time saving use cases:
An engineer can now add a series of nets to a save state and have a technician individually probe and measure them. Because inspectAR uses augmented reality the physical location of these nets will track on the live board itself no matter which orientation they place it in.
Components can be grouped together based on a common parameter (eg. Do Not Install) for quick and easy visual inspection by a human.
Save states can be referenced from comments and can be shared dynamically between users on a team, someone can be working from home and literally show the other person in the lab what they need to be looking at.
Multi Select and Combine Overlays
Select multiple active overlays to display all their information in the info pane at once. You can also select to combine them all into a single overlay. This feature lets you manage your active overlays window better. It’s easy to fill that window up if you are clicking around the board a bunch and adding nets from the pinout of a component. Combining nets into groups based on some category (eg: power, RF, PCI, passives, etc) makes this menu easier to scroll through and more manageable overall.
Overlay Custom Names
Overlays can now have custom names. These names only get saved in save states and therefore are not permanently saved onto our users projects. Name any net, layer or component, inform your team of the custom name and let the work begin!
This makes communication between team members more contextual, call the net what you would if you were speaking to your colleague. It is also a real lifesaver if you are stuck with an inconveniently named net due to company policy on nomenclature (eg. 1V8_I2C_ThisGoesToMemoryController_SCL)
Better Load Times and Improved Tessellation
Not a big deal or anything but we have eliminated most load times while overlays are being generated! This is driven by our cloud implementation of inspectAR and we are really excited about leveraging the power of the cloud to give our customers this lightning fast performance even from a smartphone.
Rendering should also be greatly improved as a consequence of this. Previously some users may have noticed tessellation artifacts on their overlays, especially on arcs.
Pro users now have the ability to collaborate with up to three other Pro users. Pro collaborators can be assigned from the webapp - collaborators will be able to share calibrations, comments, and save states with many more collaboration features forthcoming. We really want our Pro’s to start using this, if you’re confused at all drop us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or come through our webchat and we will get you up and running.
In the minutiae of this release we are excited to highlight some core improvements to the tool - our RAM consumption has improved meaning some older devices will show better performance especially when loading fills. As always, you’ll notice some extra polish has been added to our UI to make things as easy and intuitive as possible. A lot of these efforts went into the screenshot markup tool which we released in version 2.2.0
If you notice any of these issues are persisting then please email email@example.com - we will resolve it.
Fixed various screenshot markup tool bugs
Fixed certain cameras having a low FPS for calibration on macOS
Minor bug fixes - too many to go into but thank you to everyone who reports a bug to us, we always prioritize bug fixes over any feature work.