InspectAR Beta is Here
Hardware iterations never slow down, but they are also never quite as fast as software. Things move fast in the world of bits where designs can be rapidly iterated on through software. That’s something hardware engineers learned firsthand during the late 1980’s as printed circuit board design moved from mylar taped layouts to software designs. Not having to lay down tiny pieces of tape to build your circuit board was pretty sweet at the time - it moved circuit board design from the world of atoms to the world of bits.
As a result, hardware iteration times improved significantly. Over the years, as semiconductor technologies have improved the software used to design circuit boards has kept pace. Modern electronics design assistants have impressive features and automations which allow designers to move at the pace they can think, not at the pace they can draw with tape.
But for all the progress that has been made in circuit board design, the equally crucial phases of verification, testing, and debugging have not kept pace. These processes are still anchored in the world of atoms, where things can go wrong for a million reasons, and when they do photographs, measurements, and information are required to communicate the issues correctly.
Enter Augmented Reality
AR technologies have advanced significantly and now have the potential to completely disrupt the hardware bringup phase. The information you needed from your design software can now be brought directly into your working viewport, no need to keep looking back into your design software. Suddenly those pictures you need to take are right in front of you (with the circuit in question already overlaid - no more manually annotating them).
And the gained efficiencies don’t stop there. When you’re working in the lab and you reference location-specific information from your screen to your board, your brain is doing a lot of spatial computation to keep track of everything. When you use augmented reality the information is there in front of you, no questions. Make no mistake, a clean and well labelled silkscreen will help you work more efficiently and find things, but don’t leave the job of inferring which annotation matches a certain component to a single individual. Augmented reality shows this clearly, every time. You might even be able to compress the footprint of your prototype boards by trimming down your silkscreen now that you don’t absolutely need it.
So decrease your hardware iteration time, speed up any hand assembly you’re still doing, free up your senior engineers from taking time to explain workflows to technicians, and empower your firmware developers to probe the board with ease. Inspectar is here, and electronics lab work just entered the world of bits.