Multi-Display Support

You can now run inspectAR across multiple displays at once. This is a big change for inspectAR

Product & Design
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2
 Min read
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July 22, 2021

You can now run inspectAR across multiple displays at once. This is a big change for inspectAR, having come all the way from a single smartphone screen, we never expected to the point where users need to connect multiple displays to the tool for ease of use.

But here we are! We are releasing the initial development of this feature in the 2.9.0 version of inspectAR under Beta status because we still expect to make further developments to this feature in the coming releases.

In terms of functionality, what multi-display support does for a user of inspectAR is to separate the traditional EDA software UI from the augmented reality video feed which is the key technological feature of inspectAR. In single-display mode you’re forced to drag floating menus around the screen to keep them out of the way of your board. This is a tough challenge because there are two types of things which you can click on inside of inspectAR. You have physical components on the board, such as an IC or capacitor and then you have fixed resolution menus like our ‘Info Pane’ and ‘Active Overlays’ menus. There is no way to know how you will zoom, pan, and move the board around underneath the camera so it becomes a major challenge to display components at a resolution where they are still clickable, but then also still display menus at the correct resolution as well.

Before multi-display menus had to be in-view with the board.
Multi-Display with menus in second window.

Lowering the screen resolution of the camera feed + overlays would limit the component size you can click. This would mean needing to zoom in when you otherwise don’t have too. If you know much about overlay tracking and camera controls, you know that you want to avoid this when you can. If we lowered the display resolution by displaying our menu system alongside it instead of over it like we currently do, we might make it impossible for you to click an 0402 resistor on your design. And that’s just not good enough so instead we designed a minimalist floating menu system which you can move out of the way to an area where there is either no PCB, or that you aren’t interested in at the moment.

0201 Resistors with AR overlays (silkscreen highlights on hover) side-by-side with and without zoom

This is a good compromise but not a perfect one. If you want to display a data sheet or picture at full resolution, then you simply won’t have room to do this and still see your board. Additionally, if you are using multiple menus at once and need to display a wide area of the PCB to see your overlay (like a ground plane) it might not be possible to have all of these menus open at the one time. And while this isn’t always necessary, it is as tumbling point for inspectAR power users.

Our solution is to allow the app to span multiple displays so that all this extra data can be displayed simultaneously without covering the PCB in any way. To connect additional monitors, you’ll need to navigate to the settings menu from the projects dashboard. When you select ‘Activate Multi-Display Mode’ from settings you’ll be prompted to make sure that your monitor is located on your main display. The ‘Main Display’ is the one which you wish to use for your video feed. We recommend using the largest display available for this but it depends on personal preference.

3rd Person View of Multi-Display in use

Activating multi-display mode will also put the inspectAR application into full screen mode by default. To exit the application or switch to another window you’ll need to hit the escape key. If you wish to exit multi-display mode you can do this from the exact same settings menu where you enable it. Note that the application will automatically restart to exit multi-display mode.

While in multi-display mode you’ll notice that you can still activate and drag menus across your video feed just like before. If you right click the menu, you have the option to choose which display you’d like to send it to. You can also activate a menu on another display by clicking its icon on the toolbar. Think of the toolbar as being mirrored across the displays. You can connect as many as 8 displays to inspectAR! Please use a machine with GPU(s) if you would like to connect more than one additional monitor. By the way, this feature is not available on mobile devices, it is desktop only for Windows and MacOS.

For tele-engineering users who are screen-sharing inspectAR this feature can help save any the clutter from any menus which are not relevant to your discussion. Just remember, to access your screen-sharing application (e.g., Zoom, WebEx) you will need to alt-tab out of inspectAR or use the escape key.

Because this feature is in Beta still we are actively looking for feedback. Feel free to leave us a note here or use our in-app feedback form.

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