inspectAR 2.5 Release

Release 2.5 includes a sample project so users can get a taste of inspectAR immediately after download.

News & Updates
 Min read
November 16, 2021

inspectAR 2.5 gives new users a way to learn how to use the tool better – our example project. The example project gives anyone a chance to see inspectAR’s augmented reality technology in action against a suitable image target.

inspectAR today is an aid to the PCB designer when they must explain the physical object which they just designed to someone unfamiliar, or untrained in electronics design. We do this by superimposing the ‘films’ or layout of the circuits inside a circuit board, onto the board itself with augmented reality technology. Now, the correspondence between the digital model of that board and the real-world device can be 1:1.

This has big implications; when someone is holding a circuit board to do something, they generally have to navigate to the right area on that circuit board first, in order to do it. It sounds so obvious, but for every single circuit board it takes time and skill to do this quickly and effectively. Whether you are working under a microscope or not, there can be thousands of repetitive work flows on similar looking, small-minuscule parts on the board. It is very easy to make very expensive mistakes.

For the designer, a software design environment solves this challenge while they are designing. Similar looking, small-minuscule parts are given contrasting colors, and blown up in size to distinguish them from their neighbors. Still unsure what you are looking at? Click the part and spawn an entire menu telling you more about it. Curious how something will behave under certain conditions? Open a different program (maybe?) and run a simulation. Only the truly difficult questions are unknowable during the design stage of a circuit board.

High density BGA package in a 2D CAD layout environment. You can see all nets and features are labeled and given contrast and colors so that they are easy to view.

High density BGA package in a 3D CAD layout environment. Some CAD tools will allow you to color nets and features like the photo above but you still have to correlate this to your physical PCB.

High density BGA package in an augmented reality CAD environment provided by inspectAR. Nets, features can be colored however you wish and will always correspond 1-to-1 with the physical model of the board.

However, the software design environment the electronics industry has created to simplify the complexity of circuit boards over the past 40 years hits an almost insurmountable challenge when that board is manufactured and enters the real world. The moment humans, or anything other than a trained robot tries to interact with that board they must immediately begin thinking about how this physical object correlates to its digital design. If you are looking at the bottom of a circuit board but your design viewer has not been flipped to match, you either have to know that, and then flip it yourself through software, or risk working on the mirrored copy of a part you think matches the design. As it turns out, that’s an easy example, because the software design environment you’re using has a feature to do it. Say you need to know the location of a particular net you are looking at in your schematic, so that you can measure it on the physical prototype now that is has been manufactured. Now you’re stuck trying to find the correspondence between three or four different perspectives of the circuit board in the design environment, and then having to spatially map those over the physical board itself. It’s a mess, and not worth bothering with if you can avoid it.

inspectAR is a specialized tool for when you cannot avoid the mess of working on a prototype circuit board. Using an augmented reality, we take a picture of the PCB and map it to the digital model created in design. You calibrate that image and show us where the circuit board is, and we give you the correspondence between its digital design 30 times a second over a live video feed, that’s our secret sauce.

Now that your software design environment has leapt over the hurdle of intelligently recognizing a PCB design when it enters the real world. You can begin to apply and leverage all the talent of that industry to problems that occur past the point of design sign off and manufacturability checks. Today inspectAR integrates a digital model of your PCB that includes the layout (viewable overlays), PCB schematic (net searching, and connectivity, schematic cross probing is coming), and some supply chain information from your BOM (today we have a Digi-Key integration, much more is coming). This creates incredible value for any designer, and we will be expanding what that model of your board can be to include simulations, measurements, procedures and more as we continue to develop the product.

Do you believe our vision? How about we just show you instead. Download our app, signup, launch, and points your camera at the screen below.

Add calibration images here

Want bigger pictures? Click here.

Like the article? Spread the word