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issue: January 2007 APPLIANCE European Edition

Control Panels and Displays
Getting User Friendly Faster


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APPLIANCE Staff Feature

NOVX® Systems Inc. supplies addiction clinics with sophisticated, fast and comprehensive drug use analysis systems. In an effort to make its products more functional and user-friendly for the end user, it chose Amulet OnBoard™ module display solutions for its new iMDx™ urine analysis machine.

In order to speed the development of an easy-to-use graphical user interface, medical equipment OEM NOVX Systems Inc. worked with an Amulet OnBoard module. This is a fully integrated display solution that includes a Graphical OS Chip and all the other parts to drive the LCD.

The medical device is a fully automated and highly technical platform. As such, the company faced a tedious and time-consuming task of integrating all of the sub-systems into the product and getting them to work in unison in the final system. The company knew it needed a user-friendly, professional-looking graphical user interface (GUI) to help end users understand the system. It sought a more sophisticated look than a character-based display for such a complex product. Additionally, because so much of the company’s time and resources were tied up on different development aspects, it needed a GUI solution that could fit seamlessly into the product without delaying time-to-market.
NOVX, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, chose the Amulet solution to create the professional-looking, user-friendly GUI that it was looking for. The module supplier, Amulet Technologies (Santa Clara, California, U.S.), is a fabless semiconductor company that invented the Graphical OS in Silicon™. Amulet-enabled GUIs offload the burden of the GUI from the host embedded processor, which allows designers to use less-powerful and less expensive micros.
The OnBoard is a fully integrated display solution. The Graphical OS Chip™ and all the other parts to drive the LCD are mounted directly on the PCB. Modules are available in three display types and include an integrated 5.7-inch touch panel, white LED backlight and a four megabit serial data flash chip for storing Amulet’s HTML pages. Included is on-board circuitry that allows the contrast and backlight to be programmed via HTML.
“For us, the Amulet module was truly the complete solution,” observes Erik Hansen, vice president, sales and marketing. “Because of the HTML programming capabilities and serial interface, it allowed our entire team to collaborate on developing a dynamic-looking GUI in a fraction of the time as other, more traditional approaches.” With Amulet’s technology, NOVX was able to develop the GUI in about one month. It created several iterations based on both marketing’s and engineering’s input on the overall look and feel of the design.
By choosing this GUI solution, NOVX, founded in 2001, was able to free up the majority of its system programmers so that they could focus on other, more complex aspects of the system. At the same time the company could still have confidence that it would have a professional-looking and reliable GUI.
Additionally, by using Amulet’s technology, the iMDx machine is field-programmable. Via Ethernet, users are able to upload system updates to the GUI at any time, reducing the amount of manual field maintenance. “Amulet’s technical support was exceptional, and responded to our requests in a very timely manner,” notes Basil Allos, senior digital designer. NOVX reports it is very pleased with the professional look that it has been able to achieve, and with the increased functionality of the overall product. With the GUI, training users on iMDx operation takes only about an hour.

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Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Amulet Technologies
 

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